(Patron Saint of abused women, impossible dreams, and lost causes.)
There are many details that make the fig tree a good companion for a saint. First of all, that it will grow out of rock, like an orchid, only gigantic; that it could even grow out of the “ruins” of our civilization.
It is now believed that fig trees were the first plant species to be bred for food, some 11,000 years ago in the Middle East—several hundred years before wheat cultivation began. Because its wood is terribly difficult to chop down and provides nothing of interest to our markets, its existence in places like Queensland’s national and state parks has saved those areas, and their other trees, from logging. The roses shown here are Alain Blanchard, from the species “Rosa gallica,” which, according to Wikipedia, is one of the earliest cultivated species of roses.
One of Rita’s miraculous aspects was her ability to acquire a fig and a rose from a favorite garden in the dead of winter simply by wishing it so. Here, her presence has caused both to bloom from the same fig tree. After all, many things come from a fig tree: according to legend, underneath it, Buddha found enlightenment, and from between its roots sprung the Sarasvati river, very important to the Hindis; according to a NASA clean air study, the weeping fig also produces clean air, processing out our nasty pollutants—bringing us back full circle in this post and in the world, with new life forming from our ruins—by way of the fig tree.