Abbie Zabar

Family Affair: Vera and Latif Jiji planted the vine in 1977.

A Vine in the Sky

For 12 months of the year, a few steps below the sidewalk, a fig tree grows in nothing more than a polyvinyl container filled with New York City dirt. The canopy of leaves looks about 10 feet high, and every morning, on my way to swim at the 92nd Street Y, I check it out — sort of like a mother marking her child’s growth on the kitchen wall. In September, hide-and-seek fruit cozy up to leaves so large that you know why Adam and Eve wore foliage for their going-away wardrobes.