Dymphna and the Ladder of Doom

Or, Who Gives a Fig?

The anthropophagous fig tree.I told Dymphna that her loyal readers deserve an update on her condition, so she has given me her permission to issue a progress report.

Her knee is much better; she is off the crutches now and hobbling around. The doctor wants to get an X-ray of her back to check for a possible compression fracture of a vertebra, but so far she is resisting. Right now she is suffering from the debilitating side effects of hydrocodone, and is resting. Earlier she managed to rouse herself long enough to comment on Belmont Club.

At the right you can see the ladder and the fig tree that are responsible for her distress. One of the malicious ripe figs is circled in red.

Dymphna is unwilling to leave those figs to their own devices, and insists that I must mount an expedition to resume where she left off. Given the baleful reputation of the site, I am loath to do so. But I am nothing if not an obedient husband, and am looking around for a good sherpa and some bottled oxygen…

14 thoughts on “Dymphna and the Ladder of Doom

  1. Take a soup can or small coffee can.  Cut a V-shaped notch in the rim using tin snips or the like.  Affix to a long stick or pole using whatever fasteners are ready to hand, so that the V-notch is opposite the stick.

    Maneuver the can so that the fruit falls within and the stem goes into the V-notch.  Raise the can so that the stem is severed.  Repeat until can becomes too heavy with fruit to be maneuvered.  Empty.  Continue until fruit is all collected or you run out of patience, energy, appetite or friends upon whom to bestow bounty.

  2. Excellent idea, E-P. I love practical solutions. I’ve been lying on my bed of pain thinking of things like that, but didn’t come up with anything so clever as your idea.

    The figs on that tree, perhaps because it gets too much shade, are mostly good for preserves.

  3. As a fig feeler of some experience I must protest the use of the deus ex machina approach to fig picking. To catch them at their peak of ripeness requires the light application of finger tips to judge the yielding quality of their rounded bases. You must then support the prize in the fingers of the weak hand while using clippers in the strong hand.

    Unorthodox methods are not to be tolerated. My Black Missions, Genoa and Celeste reward me with pounds and pounds of fruit for my efforts to the extent that neighbors greet my comings and goings with the enthusiasm of zucchini recipients.

    The Celeste, a hard to find variety, dries well and has slight overtones of nutmeg. Also, like all figs it benefits from annual hard pruning. I keep my trees about ten feet tall, max.

    I will now draw this to a close and resist the temptation to include an extended essay on the role of fruit, esp. figs in salacious Arabic literature.

  4. -just have her dye her hair black, put in brown contacts and speak in broken English with alot of Spanish thrown in, and tell em’ she was picking fruit and fell from the ladder – that should get you a check and free medical care for the next 30-40 years

  5. I knew when I first heard you blog about Dymphna’s figgy fall, that her injury was probably more serious than described. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  6. Dymphna is dictating this response:

    “In Zone 7b, Brown Turkey figs grow best and are the most widely available, though Edible Landscapes (a nursery that sells food-producing plants) offers wider varieties by mail.

    “I agree that ripeness is key to picking figs; for B.T. it’s when the attaching stem goes limp. So Engineer-Poet’s method would work.

    “It’s not surprising that there is salacious poetry about figs out there. I’ve written one or two myself about their resemblance to the scrota of homo sapiens.

    “Question: what time of year of best for hard pruning (given that we live in Central Virginia)?

    “I love dictating. Seems to bring out my natural self.”

    I hereby certify that the above is a true and accurate transcription of the words of Dymphna.

  7. Of course, I live in USDA Zone 11, or as we prefer here, Sunset Western Garden Zone 24, Coastal California, Maritime Influence. But right up against the mountains which is about 15 deg. warmer than the actual coast. So, the figs don’t really go dormant. But, I prune fruit trees in early January.

    I prune for a stout scaffold, remove crossing branches and with figs esp. I try to open the canopy for light and warmth. Also I don’t know if Brown Turkey bears on new wood or last years wood. That’s a factor. Usually, though I find that a lighter crop gives a better quality, a lot like wine grapes. ( He says, quaffing the last of a glass of fresh Zinfandel/Sirah juice. Yes we are an effete bunch out here. We even have varietal grape juice.)

    Dymphna, get the x-rays or MRI. The quicker they can catch spinal stuff the better off you will be in your dotage. Remember, with ladders, subtract two steps and that’s the highest step you want to use. We call it the OSHA step.

    Get better.

  8. Andrew —

    Dymphna would have been OK at the level of the ladder she was on, if only she hadn’t had BOTH hands full of figs when she tried to descend. Greed did her in.

  9. Greed has been the downfall of many of us poor weak humans.

    Remember: One hand for yourself. One hand for the ship.

    Oh, and a shoulder bag for the fruity spoils.

  10. ‘Twasn’t my idea originally; I found it in a magazine long ago and it is probably older than I by a considerable margin.  But I’m always keen on passing along “best practice” methods.

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