On a normal day a fig tree is just a fig tree. Middle Eastern Ficus carica grows wild where winters aren’t so bone-deep cold and summers linger long and hot and dry. Blastophaga psenes—the female fig wasp— bearing pollen from a distant tree, crawls inside the seed pod, tearing off her pollen-laden wings, the mortal price of fertility. She lays her eggs and dies. The eggs birth larvae, male and female, who dance time’s ancient dance there in the dark, after which he dies, and she emerges to pollinate another tree. Spring comes. Without the sting there can be no sweetness.
This was, however, not a normal day. That is, it was normal in every way— the sun was climbing high above the hills, the ancient sign of nascent summer nearing, the dream of wasp and pollen, seed and fig— a normal day it was…until he came by. En route to other errands, he was hungry but there were no figs. It was said he cursed the tree. But tell me: was he not a wasp to pierce the seed pod’s tomb-like darkness, and spread his wings and die and leave behind an altogether different sort of pollen that yields a sweeter sort of fig? Spring comes. Without the sting there can be no sweetness.