We have an old orange tree, and its fruit sweetens late, but when it does, it’s miraculous: sweet, cool sections like jewels; juice that seems the concentration of winter sun. Growing up in the cold, snowy northeast, oranges and their juice came from exotic, far away places. Now one of those places is my home, and it’s still strange to me. For my kids, oranges are absolutely ordinary. For them they, ahem, grow on trees. But for me, that tree is the stuff of imagination.
Now, the fruit is dropping nearly as fast we can harvest it, and it’s getting to be time to juice and zest and make arancello and orange polenta cakes.
Sunday, I asked Finn for help. I gave him a sack, and told him to climb. He grabbed the bag and ran out the back door, then disappeared into the glossy leaves, hauling himself up and up until he was surrounded by the bright fruit. He filled his bag and climbed back down.
I think this is one of the things he’ll remember about growing up in California. The opposite of snow.