Late last year, I read an article detailing the prominent place fig trees hold in the cultural imagination of Italian-Americans and, of course, their backyard gardens. A demographer can trace the path of Italian migration in the United States by simply tracking the fig trees. They can be found in neighborhoods throughout New York City and New Jersey, including my own in Jersey City. This recent article prompted me to think differently about the conception and discourse of urban history.Continue reading
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than three months ago, my physical life largely exists within the four walls of my home. I imagine that I’m living in a remote monastery or an arctic scientific outpost. That somewhat helps. Fortunately, my home has a small yard, allowing a safe space for fresh air and a connection with nature. Continue reading
During the past several weekends, I have been cleaning up my garden to prepare for the coming winter months. Bit by bit, I approached this annual seasonal project: I pulled up the remaining pepper and tomato plants, pruned bushes and shrubs, dumped potting soil into the compost bin and pile, put away chairs and tables, and swept the deck.
Now, a crispness has settled upon the ground blanketed by fallen leaves. The garden is empty and silent. Even the squirrels and birds have quieted down. All that remains is a fig tree awaiting its protective wrapping. Once I cover this tree, the season shall officially conclude. I shall visit the garden when I need a moment of reflection, but there will be no more long meals with my wife or drinks with our friends until next spring.