Zechariah 3:10 “’In that day each of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and fig tree,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
Micah 4:4 “Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken.”
Landscape is often defined by what grows within it. The produce of an area often becomes its symbol (for example, Maine potatoes, Maine blueberries, Florida oranges). As a newcomer to Melbourne, I am in the process of discovering what defines this area – what is different, what is shared, what is unique. Food is one of the easiest ways to explore these differences.
I have always had a fascination with the idea of food just popping up out of the ground – what a miraculous process! We watch it in our own backyards, patios, and other personal spaces, and then we get to eat it! While the summer garden is the source of this miracle in Maine, I have noticed that here the fruit tree is the more frequent suburban/urban source of personal produce. I expected the occasional orange tree and other citrus, but have been delighted to notice other fruits, only a few of which I have been able to identify (mangoes, starfruit.)
I have observed that joy in the harvest is universal. Gardeners everywhere become excited when sharing information about their emerging crops, however modest they might be – the container garden on the patio or in the sunroom brings as much joy as the acre of backyard garden. I have followed with joy the Facebook conversations about the solitary pineapple plant coaxed for years from the top of a fresh pineapple (I now have my own pineapple top struggling to take root.) I smile at the photos of meals prepared from the garden. I know that joy.
God’s generosity in providing luscious food from a patch of dirt with a regular application of rain and sun becomes contagious—home gardeners everywhere often share the abundance of their harvest with family, friends and neighbors. (Think of all the jokes regarding excess zucchini and green tomatoes—be sure to lock your car in late summer!)
I am also intrigued by the concepts of fruit and the fruit tree as symbols of a life of abundance and peace – gifts from God. While God generously gives this miraculous gift to all – including the nonbelieving and the unrighteous – the ability to enjoy the fruits of our labor with peace and contentment is a product of an obedient relationship with our Creator. This concept is also intertwined with spirituality – fruitfulness as a symbol of a godly life, productive spirituality, nourishing (and pleasing) to those around us. This project is about fruitfulness in our personal spaces, our own version of “vine and fig tree” growing in the yard or on the patio.
Like all art, the symbolism will have to take root in the heart of the viewer of its own accord. These are the symbols calling to my heart right now, and God has the infinite ability to plant symbols in the hearts of others according to His desires and their needs. So the images will be about the fruits, the trees, the plants, and the places. The rest is up to those who see them.