Friday, April 3, 2009

My Orange Tree

Vegetation in the valley, as this part of Arizona is known, is somewhat a mystery to me. Of course, there are the various species of cactus, which are an interesting study. Some people I know (actually one person) just love cacti. I'm trying to get past the aggressive look of most of them - that is, they are all armed with tiny spears, sharper than tacks, and some of them, I'm told even attack animals and people. I do understand that these are adaptions of the plants for survival - to ward off predators who might steal their water and weaken them in the process.

The valley also sports an interesting variety of coniferous and deciduous trees. Where my dogs will snarf down mulberries from the post Dutch Elm plantings in Minnesota, here I'm having to ask them to spit out the olives that cover the ground up at the park. Among the trees in my neighborhood are citrus fruit trees, including lemon, grapefruit and orange trees.

I met the orange tree in my back yard during my visit here in June last year (temperatures hovering around 110). It had been sadly neglected while my house had been vacant and in these temperatures, without water, the poor thing was looking pretty sad. We could determine by careful inspection that it was a fruit tree, but what kind of fruit tree was not immediately apparent.

With a little attention my orange tree has borne fruit, not a huge crop compared to the trees around it that have been well cared for, but a respectable production. As I was once given a beautiful orange off a tree in California and had found at first taste that it was sour and unpleasant, I was cautious about my own oranges. To my great delight, they are sweet and juicy and make a wonderful mix for a shot or two of vodka.

I have now picked the last of the oranges on my tree, and have eaten most of them - technically, I have drunk most of them. And I have come to treasure my orange tree. We have fertilized it and arrangements have been made for it to be watered regularly, even when I'm not here. It is not just that these lovely orange fruits are decorative in the landscape, it is that they are free, sort of. And healthy! As a lifelong northerner, I'm delighted with the idea that I can pick fruit right off my own tree and enjoy it at cocktail hour. Some might even find it nice for breakfast.


  1. We'll call ahead to have your room at the "spa" waiting for your arrival.

    (I guess they really aren't just for breakfast anymore!)

  2. I don't know - my first contact with the screw driver was at brunches - very versatile, this drink known as vodka.