Sick, again. Al had tonsilitis last weekend and into the beginning of the week; I held on until Friday and am now wallowing in unspecified illness. How is it that no-one has splashed a red cross above our door?
I wandered out into the sun in the back garden yesterday afternoon, to indulge in a little morose drifting about. And there, in the far corner, next to the compost bins, on its small and sorely neglected tree, I came across the last remaining fig. It has escaped the birds, the kids, and the frosts, and was perfectly, sweetly, sexily ripe; purple and pink and pale, pale green; an unexpected gift hanging off the elegant bare branches. Normally, I share my finds with the girls, to encourage them to see the garden as a place of promise and deliciousness, but not when it comes to figs. No-one loves figs as much as I do, and these are my selfish delight, the one bit of garden produce I keep all for myself.
When I first moved down here, I lived in a small terrace house that backed onto a lane. (For the local readers: on Balfour St, the first terrace next to the Sporties hotel.) Two houses down, the yard was filled with massive fig trees, with branches that hung over the fence. When the fig season came I would wander down each morning, collect an armful of ripe fruit and then sit on my deck under the banksia rose and grape vines and gobble the goodies in the cool morning air. Even after we moved, I would sometimes take a walk past the fence at an appropriate time of year and renew my acquaintance with those generous trees.
Driving past the lane the other day, I noticed the trees have been heavily pruned so that there can be no more sharing with the neighbours. Even though the branches will no doubt grow back, and even though I hadn't visited for a couple of years, I felt that one of my special places had been irrevocably altered, and I was washed, inexplicably, in a subtle yearning for those lonely, confusing and fig-filled days.