My mother is is philosophical about figs, looks at a basket of them and sighs.
It's fall, she says, with the weltschmerz available to those who are German. It's really, truly fall. Gone is spring, she says, taking a bite. At least these, in their perfect ripeness, at lease these, right before their ultimate decay, they're perfect. I had a melancholic childhood, obviously.
However, there were figs, and plenty of them: big fat California ones that when the juice ran down your chin hinted of another way of life, a hedonistic, embodied Mediterranean way, where for fun people talked loud, and danced, and at weddings they shot fireworks into the air, and didn't read Goethe.
A big fig tree grew by the farmhouse and my mother would be thrilled as only the German can be thrilled to forage in its branches. I was instructed to hold the colander, and I loved it's various heavinesses as my mother worked. First, a puppy in my arms, then it would be so full of purple figs, it'd feel like Newfoundland.