Fig trees grow all over Ocracoke village. Already many of the figs are beginning to ripen. The photo below is of the tree behind the Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum (click on it to view a larger image). The darker figs will be ready to eat when the sides begin to crack and split. The challenge is plucking them just at the right time...before the birds get to them!
Figs on some trees are still tiny, others are larger, but green and hard. They won't ripen for a while.
The very complex, remarkable, and thoroughly fascinating story of the relationship between tiny "fig wasps" and figs is told in chapter 10, "A Garden Inclosed," in the book "Climbing Mount Improbable" by biologist Richard Dawkins. He calls the story of the fig "the most difficult and complicated of all [his] stories." It is a story of "strategy," "symmetry," "cooperation," "kinship," "combat," "deception," "struggle," "mimicry," and "police action" (he uses many of these terms metaphorically, at the risk of making much of his explanation sound too purposeful, which he insists it is not).
Dawkins describes the relationship between fig and fig wasp as "almost ludicrously tortuous and subtle." Although he admits that his explanation of this "difficult and complicated matter" might "defeat [him]," the 28 page chapter is well worth the time required to read it.
Please leave a comment if you've read this fascinating story.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a modern day ghost tale, "Ode to Mrs. Godfrey," by guest columnist Tom McDonald. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news.htm.