Behind the house, and the roundhouse, down the slope of a small hill, with a path running through the bamboo, is the first fig tree. It sits in a clearing, the ground around it littered with twigs and grass shoots. A ladder leans against the painted, white trunk (to protect the tree from ants), and a pile of large stumps are stacked in the distance. Beyond the first tree, to the West, is a steep, grassy drop off. Down the hill are the other fig trees, and the olives, and beyond that the pomegranates, and then the sea.
Maro leads the way down the path, her long, patterned skirt swaying as she walks. I notice, walking behind her now, that her shoulders are curved, and that her head bows gracefully towards the earth. Her red hair is piled on her head, and her arms extend slightly to either side. She makes her way slowly through the thick of twigs and tall grass, until we stand before the first tree.
Maro instructs me to look up.
“See my dear, they are the fat purple fruit,” she says, pointing and walking in the direction of her finger. Though she has perfect English, I can’t help but note when her accent bleeds with hints of Greek. I love the way she says “fat,” as if the word is really a drawled out “fehht.”
She stands below the fruit now, stretching her body from its curved shape, reaching as far as she can above her head. I see the heavy fruit she is aiming to pick, and walk towards her, ready to step in. I am sure she will tip over when suddenly she reaches a bit further and plucks the fig. She folds back to her normal height, her breath noticeably quickened.
“Alright darling, now it will be your turn. Do you see any more now?” She huffs for a moment, walking to distract the air from the noise of her breath. We turn our heads back, searching the branches for more fruit. I see one to my right.
“Is that one, over there?” I ask, pointing.
“Ah, yes,” she says, inching towards the spot. “Grab the ladder darling, I don’t think you can reach that one without.”
I move the ladder from the trunk, towards the spot below the fruit. After fumbling to balance it in the correct direction on the slope, I begin to climb. Maro stabilizes the ladder from the bottom. “Now careful darling, if you can’t reach it, I will,” she says. I turn my body from her, so that she can’t see the mix of amusement and concern on my face in response to her comment.
I settle myself at the highest step of the ladder, leaning slightly into the top bar. I reach through the branches, grasping the muted purple fruit gently in my hand. I can’t ignore its weight, its perfect smoothness. I begin twisting to the left, letting the top of the fig fold into itself.
After a few turns, it comes off the branch into my hand, and I almost drop it in surprise. I find myself thinking this must be what it would feel like to hold an oversized tear drop. It is perfect, soft. It makes me irrationally happy.
I turn to Maro grinning. “Lovely, darling,” she says, giving me a “hm” of approval.
“Now over there my dear.” Maro points me to another fig, and we adjust the ladder beneath it.
We continue like this as the sun moves deeper and deeper behind the trees, dusk enveloping us, the figs, and the bamboo forest. Maro points, I pick. My first day on the farm ends in the twilight hours.