Saturday, May 12, 2007
...well, not really. But a part of it took almost two years to grow. Let me explain.
Picture it. Irvine. Summer of 2005. I was packing up and getting ready to move to Syracuse, where Daiku was teaching. His birthday was coming up, so I decided to send him a gift that would symbolize our lives and relationship at that time. I was leaving California, and one of the things we would both miss about it was the fresh produce, especially the citrus fruit that grew everywhere. So I chose to send him a miniature lemon tree from Harry & David, like this one.
I figured the tree would be a fun thing, and a way of having a piece of California sunshine in upstate New York. The catalog promised us that out tree would grow loads of lemons, so flavorful and delicate that you could eat them skin and all. It all sounded fun and intriguing.
The gift arrived to Daiku. Really excited, I asked him over the phone, "do you see any lemons yet??" He replied, "No... it's a little... puny." It turned out that the lemon tree they had sent was far from the lush fruitful tree we had been promised. I was a little disappointed, but Daiku decided to get on the phone to Harry & David and see if they could help. They were really helpful on the phone, and promised to send another lemon tree to replace the first one.
And that is how we ended up with two tiny trees, supposedly about to sprout lemons any day now. So we put them in the sunshine, watered them, and waited.
The little trees became a part of our lives. We forgot about the lemons and treated them as beloved house plants. Above, you can see Daiku vacuuming around one.
Here's a squirrel, investigating a lemon tree out on the porch. In the summer, we moved the trees (which we'd named Ramon and Ramona by this time) to the yard, so they could enjoy extra sunshine and warmth. They proceeded to get infested with aphids. We lovingly treated them with neem oil, since our garden is organic and we couldn't use pesticides or other chemicals.
And then, a breakthrough! Little white flowers bloomed on the plants- could lemons be far behind? In time, we saw tiny little buds, lemon fetuses, if you will and got our hopes up that a huge lemon crop was due at any time.
However, soon the weather turned cool and we had to move the plants inside. Most of the little fetuses disappeared, but one little lemon hung on. We let it be. Weeks went by, then months.
Then one day, a perfect little lemon was born. It was time. Time to eat our baby.
We spent a few days contemplating the perfect way to eat the little guy, the lemon that had taken nearly 2 years to grow.
We decided on a Moroccan-style vegetable tagine with whole wheat couscous, figuring that the fresh acidity of lemon would be the perfect note to bring out the full flavor of the chickpeas and the summer vegetables such as zucchini and tomato.
And there it was- the meal that took two years to come into existence. The lemon was perfect, delicate, and juicy. The skin was, indeed edible. We really enjoyed the couscous. And then it was gone. And now we are left with two lemon plants, and an empty place in our hearts. We are thinking of transfering them to bigger containers this summer, and pruning them, to give them a fighting chance so that maybe, just maybe, we can enjoy another meal like this some time in 2009.