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fig-tree-mccorvey.jpg Allen McCorvey
Though not the fig tree mentioned in this column, this tree in Worth County, Ga., is another special one. Picture taken July 2020.

Hot, summer day triggers a flashback to a special tree

We'd pull figs from that tree and drink water straight from the hose. Refreshed, we'd go back to the games.

It was hot this weekend. No surprises there. We worked in the yard and picked stuff from the garden, and when I drank from the water hose, I had the most pleasant flashback.

It was long ago. There's a 12-year-old version of me drinking from a water hose and looking up to what is in a child's point of view an enormous fig tree. I reach up and pick one. It is so plump and sweet. Perfect. Bees fly around but don't sting. I take another swig from the hose. Someone butts in to grab his own swig. I don't care. I grab another fig.

The fig tree was at my grandparents' house, who lived just outside of town. In the summer, my cousins, one my age and the other five years older, would stay there. No shirts or shoes required, but bicycles and plenty of time to kill and fun and trouble to be found. A Puerto Rican family lived behind the grandparents. The family had several children and a few our ages. They also had an almost perfect scaled-down baseball diamond fenced in the backyard. We had a basketball goal on a post on our side. Several other white and black kids lived around there, too.

Baseball, basketball (and whiffle ball) were played almost daily. A football would routinely fly, too. During breaks, or sometimes after disagreements on a call or the ever-changing rules of street sports, we'd go pull figs from that tree and drink water straight from the hose. Refreshed, we'd go back to the games.

The fig tree's root system ran through where the washing machine discharged from the house. Granny Zola didn’t have a clothes dryer. She hung clothes on a line near the fig tree. I now realize part of that glorious tree's size came from the fertility opportunity the runoff from the washer provided. I don't know if that is zone-friendly these days but seems a pretty sustainable system to me.

That was many decades ago. Things change. People grow up and some pass. The grandparents' house was sold to another family 25 years ago, but on hot summer days, I guess I still flashback there.

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