Resilience

Figs are delicious. I freaking love them. I could eat figs all day.

When we were first married we lived in Richmond, an inner-city suburb of Melbourne. Back in the 60’s Richmond was heavily populated by Greek migrants, attracted by the low cost of housing and abundant opportunities for employment in manufacturing. Our neighbour Christos, a delightful man in his early 70’s, purchased their home for $60,000 in 1965. Like every good Greek, Christos converted his small, concrete yard into a food forest, planting fruits and vegetables into basically any vessel he had available: tomatoes in old tyres, capsicums and chillies in polystyrene boxes, kalamata olives in a wheelbarrow, a lemon tree in a bucket… the list goes on. Where space was permitting, these Greek kitchen gardens also featured beautiful fig trees, the branches of which would often hang down over the fence into what I insisted was the public domain. On many a summer’s evening, Lachy would roll his eyes at me as I gleefully leaped at the fragrant, purple globules.
“Oh, so that’s your tree in your garden, is it?”
“Well, this branch is hanging over the footpath. Actually, can you reach that one for me?”
“No, I’m not picking figs for you because it’s stealing!”
“ Hey, it’s either me or the fruit bats, and at least I’m not screeching and sh*tting everywhere!”

Jump for my love

I’ve been thinking about the quality of “resilience” lately.

Resilience is an adjective that means:
1. (of an object or material) capable of regaining its original shape or position after bending, stretching, compression, or other deformation; elastic.
2. (of a person) recovering easily and quickly from shock, illness, hardship, etc; irrepressible.

I love the word irrepressible; it reminds me of the introduction to Monkey Magic…
“Elemental forces then caused the stone egg to hatch. From it there came a stone monkey. The nature of monkey was irrepressible!”

monkey magic

I won’t lie, I find the thought of someone describing my nature as “ irrepressible” to be very appealing. However, like the elastic of your undies that must return to size 10 after your dad puts them on by mistake, we are only proved to be resilient in the context of a stretch. Before one can “bounce back”, their lives or bodies must be bent, compressed or deformed in some way or other. It’s a simple truth that we cannot develop resilience by cruising through life. The good thing is, this truth gives us a new filter through which to view the uncomfortable or distressing things that happen to us, from “I can’t handle this any longer” to “bring it b*tch, I’m irrepressible”.

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A recent example of real life resilience is the determined comeback of my fig tree, after the Boxing Day Massacre of 2012, when 20kg of puppy decided to ringbark my favourite Christmas present less than 24 hours after I received it.

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I ring-barked Jessi’s Christmas fig tree on Boxing Day.
(I didn’t get ANY Christmas pudding, so I thought it was fair)

(NB. concept courtesy of dogshaming.com)

“It’ll be alright”  said my Gran, “figs are very hardy, just keep the water up to it.”

As luck would have it, the next day we were booked to go on a 2 week beach holiday, during which time Melbourne (naturally) hit a ≥40°C heatwave. Great weather for swimming, not so great for recently mutilated figs. Had I asked anyone to water my garden while we were away? Of course not, how anal. On our return, the brown and shrivelled fig had become a cuddling post for my very clingy pumpkin.

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Not wanting to further distress the pumpkin, I left the fig in situ, where it received incidental watering. One day, below the scar, I noticed the fig was sending out beautiful green shoots.

What a champion! Go little fig tree – you are a fabulous example of resilience.
To encourage regrowth, I took the fig out of its protective enclosure for a feed and some pruning. Then the phone rang (hi Dad!)

I was gone maybe 5 or 10 minutes… but long enough for bloody Indie to have a second go at demolishing the poor thing.

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You stupid dog! What is it about you and fig trees?
However, a week later and the gnawed stump has put forth ever more green shoots

Little fig tree, you are truly irrepressible!

I’ve decided to name her Lazarus.

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