My friend and neighbor Luella and I celebrate a milestone birthday this weekend – we were born on the same day 50 years ago. I’ve never really been one for celebrating my own birthday, but 50 feels significant, and so I wanted to mark the occasion with more than just the usual special birthday dessert (our family tradition – I’m leaning towards some kind of raspberry/chocolate/cookie ice cream affair this year).
A couple of weeks ago Rebecca asked me how I wanted to celebrate this birthday, and without thinking I blurted out, “I want to plant 50 fig trees in our neighborhood.” This was not as random as it may seem. We love figs. We have a fig tree in our front yard, Chicago Hardy variety, and we enjoyed the sweetest fruit from it over a couple of months last year. I particularly enjoyed the reactions of the middle school kids walking up our street after school who were brave enough to try one. I realize it is a rare treat to eat a fig right off the tree, and one we have only enjoyed ourselves for the last couple of years.
After blurting out my idea, we began to wonder at the possibility. What if there were 50 more fig trees planted in front yards and public places in our neighborhood for people to enjoy as they walked home from school, or work, or the store? We have put roots down here, and the thought of walking past fig trees twenty years from now that we helped plant with our neighbors fills me with happiness. We talked to Luella about our idea, and she loved it. So we’re going to do it!
But there’s more! Something else Luella and I share is a small gathering in her and her husband Steve’s home every Saturday, which we’ve now been doing for about a year. We share a potluck meal and the Eucharist together with some other friends and neighbors, we sing, pray and read scripture together. We have felt an invitation to formalize what we’re doing, and when you do that, it helps to have a name. So, the name we have chosen is the Fig Tree Collective, and you can read why here.
Planting 50 fig trees feels like a good way to celebrate our 50th birthdays and the beginning of the Fig Tree Collective. If you’d like to join us in that celebration, click here to help buy a tree or two, and – if you’re a neighbor – suggest a place or two to plant them!