Saved by the Ficara

Thirty-two year old Maria Caterina was a single woman helping to look after her younger sister and her father. Her four bothers were somewhere out from the war theatre of World War 2. No news was received from them for quite a while now. Rumours circulated the village which two had been taken prisoner, but nobody understood for sure.

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She took the typical walk down into the gully where her family vegetable garden lay the measures dug out from the side of the mountain.She climbed the early’ficara’, which intended fig tree in their local dialect. The base of the tree was so large that two people hugging it on opposite sides would not be able to join hands. She made her way up a thick branch, then slowly inching her way towards parts heavily laden with ripe figs.She had been wearing a’fardale’, dialect for an apron, and kept stuffing the pockets with newly picked figs. She ate one, then another. They had been so sweet. She extended to catch one particular fat juicy fruit when she thought she heard men’s voices. They were shouting. She stopped to listen. Suddenly, something exploded close to the bottom of the shrub. Dust went up everywhere and she heard miniature objects whistling handed her ear, chopping down fruit and leaves as they flew by. She shut her eyes, and then all hell broke loose.A bunch of soldiers came to her perspective, plus they were running back to the village. They had been wearing jeans. She knew that since they had been occupying the village for months now. Not far behind them were other soldiers. They looked different and both groups were shooting each other. One German got shot in the leg and two of the countrymen caught him leaving the guy’s rifle behind. She cursed as she realised that she had been in the center of some conflict… stuck, high on the ficara.She closed her eyes and held on into the thick branch for her dear life. There was so much shouting, yelling and firearms popping off all over the area. No-one had spotted her perched there, high up on the tree, but explosions continued. She felt that the figs roll from her pockets and fall to the floor underneath her. She was too busy holding on. It lasted only a couple of minutes but to Maria Caterina it sensed a lifetime.This story was relayed to me by Maria Caterina, my aunt. It was intriguing to hear her recount this occasion, more than once. She expired in 2006 just two months shy of her ninety-sixth birthday. This fig tree was totally destroyed in the fires that travelled through this region, I think about 1987

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