A couple of weeks ago, Ben and I spent a day adventuring around San Francisco. This city is so full of things to do and see and experience; we have been here for two years and still find plenty of sights and eats and neighborhoods we’ve yet to explore. We ended at Twin Peaks, where neither of us had been. It was beautiful and the wind whipped wildly around us, with enough force that I considered the probability of blowing away. We stood there, other languages bouncing through the air around us, thinking about how this place had been here all along, in the corner of our backyard, visited by people from across the globe while we never even thought to stop by.
Ben stepped away for a moment just before we left, and I stood alone with the wind rushing around me. I looked out over the city, trying to identify neighborhoods and admiring the miniature colored houses and the bridges stretching across the bay. As I stood, a tiny hummingbird fluttered up to the evergreen tree beside me. I should say now that I’m still a bit in awe of the reality of hummingbirds as a regular occurrence. Back home, my mom has flowers the little birds love planted alongside the backyard deck, luring them closer in hopes of admiring their shining bodies and fast-moving wings. I’m still stunned to see them flying around as I leave for my morning run, as exotic and surprising as palm trees and figs to my Midwestern mind.
This little bird was close to the tree, flapping fast as if his life depended on it. He stayed near the branches, landed for just a moment, then fluttered out into the empty expanse of sky resting above the houses. He pushed forward, then got caught in a gust of wind and careened through the air, back to the tree. He fluttered, rested, tried again. Out and back, out and back. And then, just when I’d determined that the dance would never stray from that rhythm, he got caught in just the right current and flew high into the air, arriving at a tree high above where I stood.
Was it just me, or was he proud? As much a trope as it is to anthropomorphize, I’m going to do it anyway. Because this really is just like us. We try to get where we want to go, over and over with all our might, and it doesn’t work; we end up where we started, bruised but with wisdom to match our scars. Yet at the moment when we least expect it, a gust of wind comes and throws us upward, right to the place we were supposed to end up all along.
Baked Feta with Fresh Figs
This is, perhaps, my favorite way to eat figs. It’s simple and perfect. Goat cheese works just as well as feta. The season is on its way out, so be sure to scoop up any figs you can find and make this before it’s too late!
Feta cheese (or substitute goat cheese)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt & freshly cracked pepper
A few sprigs of thyme
Aleppo pepper flakes (optional)
Fresh figs, halved
Crostini (or substitute sliced bread or crackers)
Fresh herbs (optional)
Place the cheese in a small baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and tuck the thyme alongside. Sprinkle with Aleppo pepper flakes if you want a bit more depth of flavor.
Baked at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown.
Serve alongside fresh figs, honey and crostini. If you like, top with a pile of fresh herbs, such as mint and/or parsley.