Monday, September 26, 2016

les fruits de mes travaux

produits de mon exploitation

Last week, I selected a ride from my new “Toulouse by Vélo” book and insisted we hit the road for an afternoon of calm, rolling lanes and pastoral landscapes. With my limited language, however, I couldn’t really read the entire introduction, where the authors warned about a road often crowded with cars and lacking sufficient shoulder. And the part about how one’s calves would surely be crying out after the very challenging hilly section. Toulouse the city, flat as a glassy lake, hasn’t exactly demanded a lot of us in this department.

So we set out and I was determined, because it really was pretty; but by the time we arrived at our umpteenth steep hill we were all forced to dismount and walk a ways. What began as a march slowed to a dawdle as we first noticed wild raspberries, and then — mmm — figs.

one definition of Heaven

Figs have fast become one of my favorite things about living in this part of France. Abundant and luscious, they are at every farmers’ market and marché; they grow all over the place; the owner of the store round the corner has them on his counter and gives them away like candy. Le petit garcon loves them too, and I love our shared passion.

I came to figs later in life, unexpectedly, in New Jersey. My then-copain was the son of Sicilian immigrants who came bearing cuttings of trees from their homeland, concealed in suitcases. Gino, his father, nurtured his fig tree with great care and elaborate winterizing rituals. In New Jersey and New York, figs’ arrival in late summer and early fall is like a miracle. We would sit on the swing underneath the tree, peeling our ripe figs and marveling at each bite: the tree survived another winter, against the odds, and so did we.

un enfant

But here they are everywhere, thriving almost maniacally, in backyards and on roadsides. It’s such a beautiful aspect of travel and cultural exchange: something abundant, maybe taken for granted or even resented for its ubiquitousness in one place can be scarce in another, and precious. I recall the jade and rosemary plants I saw in California, growing like hedges, whilst mine struggled to survive a Utah winter.

Since I take this blog Seriously I set out, later in the week, to conduct an informal but rigorous study on the preponderance of wild figs, just to back up my claims. I was a woman on a mission. I present my evidence.

along the Canal du Midi, the motherlode

les fruits de mes travaux

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