Sunday, November 11, 2012

Green Oranges

We have two new mandarin trees in the front yard. We put them in the ground in Feburary, and within days they were covered with sweet smelling flowers. Now for trees that young, a person should knock off all the blooms, allow the tree to put all it's energy into growing big and strong. I know this. But those blossoms smelled so good. Made weeding the bed around them a joy.

So when I saw my dad out there one morning knocking off all the blooms, I joined him. Not exactly a Fern Arable moment. My dad certainly wasn't sporting an ax about to cut a squealing life short. But it sure did seem a shame to knock all the blooms off. Couldn't we keep just a few? Or nine? Or ten? This was the question I put to my dad. Even though I knew better.

My dad left a few. Or nine. Or ten. Even though he knew better.

The blooms eventually fell off, revealing tiny round green balls, about the size of sweet peas. All through the spring and summer, they balls grew. But the trees did not.

Summer is through. Fall is upon us. The growing season is nearly gone, and the trees are not much bigger than they were when we planted them. So my dad went out and picked ten green oranges. Full size, just about to turn, but definitely green. Figured if we gave the trees a month or so to grow before the first frost, maybe they will make it through the winter.

So, ten green oranges lay on the table.

My dad was the first to peel one. Green on the outside. Pale orange on the inside. Beautiful.

He took a bite. "They're sweet," he said.

That was all the invitation we needed.

I scooped up two of them, and the kids and I headed outside. I peeled one for Pippi, one for Tommy. Pippi took hers to the awning swing, enjoyed it slowly, quietly. Tommy gobbled his up, dribbling juice down his chin, neck, shirt. His mandarin disappeared all too quickly.

"More," he begged.

"It's all gone," I said, showing him my empty hands.

"Green oranges gone?" he asked. "Pick more," he said headed for the front yard.

"Grandad picked them all."

"Oh." He hung his head and walked away.

Thinking the matter over, I pulled out my seed box, and began sorting them, filling a small basket with fall seed packets.

Tommy was back a few minutes later, hands behind his back, a big grin on his sticky face.

"What did you find?" I asked.

He opened his hand, and answered.

"Green figs."

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