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It is said

Filed in: autumn

I too would be more tempted by a sultry fig

Fig Shirae

On the Autumnal equinox a full harvest moon rose due east outside our window. It was a welcome reunion after endless cloudy, starless nights. She cast her wise and benevolent light far and wide, wrapping everything in a warm, shadow filled glow. She brought with her a stretch of fair fall weather, brisk mornings and crisp evenings bookending warm sunny days with tall skies.

The weather designs my days. Mornings, I rise with the sun and watch the day unfold. I glance out the picture window and scan from near to far to gauge the day. Glowing foliage and faint outlines of distant mountains blending into the gray sky, like water-stained fabric, herald a slow day of interior chores. Flat green foliage under a bright blue sky and a clear view to the distant mountains rippled like low-tide sand suggest a few hours outside readying the land for winter. Living this way, connected to the elements, is the greatest luxury in my life. I think of my visits to the lower level of department stores, windowless expanses of fluorescent-lit interiors with overflowing displays, a bounty of edible goods laid out in a sea of tantalizing packages. It is a fascination in the way an amusement park is, strange and delightful but pure fantasy, an artificial space selling an artificial life away from the true light of day. 

Cold mornings bring a heavy dew and I admire the pool of water on the lobate leaves of a small fig tree glistening in the slanting rays of a rising sun. The tree is still small, perhaps years away form bearing fruit, but it will taste all the sweeter form the long wait. It is said that figs are the sweetest fruit, and that perhaps the fig and not the apple, tempted Eve. It was after all the leaves of a fig tree that she chose for cover. I too would be more tempted by a sultry fig, its thin blackish purple skin stretched taught over a teardrop sac of flowers forever concealed. How do you know when a fig is ripe? They’ll shed milky tears if you pluck them before their time. Fresh figs are succulent, bursting with juicy red flesh and the crunch of so many tiny seeds. I have read that in the wild there is no season of the fig. Dedicated wasps hatch inside the ripe ones, catch the pollen as they burrow their way out, and fly enormous distances only to burrow into a single unripe fig and deliver enough pollen to create a floral womb for its own eggs. But in Mirukashi the season for figs is fall, though not yet from my sapling tree. 

The sun lifts the water from leaves up into the air, the ephemeral morning dew now no more than a memory. Autumn burns as twilight. If you consider the year a day, fall would be the blue hour. It brings a dim, piercing clarity that illuminates a striking world just as it slips into the dark of winter. The sun takes its warmth with it as it travels further away for longer each day. This is a precious time in the year when we can enjoy the sweetness of late autumn before the icy breath of winter blows in.

Fresh figs

 

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If Kuniko, my mother-in-law, were to write the story of her life it might read more as a menu than a memoir. 

if you ask her

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