The figs of George The Macedonian

Mario Ruopplo*


If God would have to build Paradise again, he would probably choose figs instead of apples. It is a tastier and sexy little fruit that, when ripe, opens itself in a very sensual way. That’s what you may discover thanks to George, whose name is probably Georgios. It was your regular big house, built
probably during the 70s. I climbed the few stone stairs and knocked on the door. There was no door bell. For a second, I thought that I was invading someone’s quiet Sunday, but the sign offering fruit for sale was there, purposefully. Out came a senior. White disheveled hair, thick glasses and a worn sweater. I said I came for the figs. He said come around the patio. The house was in a corner and behind it was a big long yard with a few trees, some well-organized rows of edible plants and a cranky black German shepherd who ran towards us and kept barking with fury. We didn’t know his name yet, so my sister asked his name. George, he said. Then my sister tried to calm the dog saying Georgy, Georgy, my sweet beautiful dog! The man heard that and said, George is my name, it’s not the dog’s name. My sister apologized and asked what was its name. Dog, he said.



higoWhat  I thought was a lime tree was indeed a fig tree, full of little green fruits hanging from its branches. We’ll take a dozen, I said. Once the dog saw us talking calmly with his master, the four-legged creature turned around, found a spot in the shade and let its furry body collapse to the ground with a canine sigh of boredom. George went to the little shack at the end of the yard and came with a flat box where a dozen green figs were sleeping. My sister took one, I took another and we ate them. They were so tasty! We asked for another dozen, admiring the fact that in this corner of urban Toronto, a Greek immigrant had created the miracle of planting figs with the flavor of the old country as he probably remembered. He told us that he was from Macedonia. We imagined that he was a retired worker that enjoyed planting and harvesting.  A dozen figs was ten dollars. A bit pricey I said to my sister. Are you crazy? she said. Look how fresh this fruit is! She was right. George said that it was this morning that he collected the figs. I saw a ladder by the tree.

The thing is that harvesting season is upon us, even in the middle of the biggest, crowded Canadian city. I didn’t wash that fig before eating it, somehow I felt that it was as organic as a green fig could be in the distant lands of Macedonia. The inside of the fruit was this beautiful and sweet purple with its tiny seeds.



I ate another and had to refrain myself after that because we were taking those figs to my mother. Later she ran out of adjectives to celebrate the fruit.This month of October is the occasion to get the kids and the whole family out to harvest apples, to slowly cook in the oven,  sweet pumpkin, and to savor the fruits of this boreal land. It is the season to admire the cycles of life. You just have to explore the city to find out what people are planting and harvesting in their yards. I heard that even honey is being produced in the city. If you step out, you may have the chance to encounter George the Greek, his cranky dog named Dog and the splendid figs that he grows in his yard.



* This a Pen name for a Latin American Journalist  and writer based in Montreal.



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