On Learning from a Lemon Tree


On Learning from a Lemon Tree

Way too early this Spring I decided that I had to have a lemon tree. Not that it would be nice to have a lemon tree, not that sometime when the weather was warmer I’d think about purchasing a tree, not that it would be wise to do a bit of research about owning and caring for a lemon tree. No. It was one of those get-out-of-bed-in-the-middle-of-the-night yearnings. A lemon tree. I had to have one. And I had to have one NOW (or then, since the longing was last April).

The next morning, I started my search. Phone calls to three local nurseries all told me that it was too soon to purchase one. “Wait a few weeks. The weather will be warmer. They need warmth to thrive.” But, redoubtable and focused, I found a fourth nursery, who said that they might have one in the hot house. They also told me that it was too soon, but as soon as I heard that they might have one, I was unstoppable in my quest. I drove the twenty miles, found what appeared to be a temporary employee who was obviously hired only to water the plants in the hot house, and we began our search for the lemon tree that “might” be there. Only by the tag, which showed a Meyer lemon tree replete with bright yellow lemons. Eureka! As I dragged it to the cashier to pay for it, she said to me, “You know it’s really too early to move this out of the hot house.” I nodded sagely, implying that, of course I knew that, and had made adequate provisions for its transfer.

I had not. And yes, it was too cold for this fledgling to be outside; and yes, it was too cold for it to be on our unheated sunporch. So, on to the kitchen table, where it would receive bounteous sunlight. Our cats chewed plants, flowers, so that we could not have greenery inside the house, unless it was high and undiscernible to feline eyes. But this, I reasoned, was a tree. They would be able to discern that. They didn’t.

And after finding regurgitated lemon tree leaves throughout the house, I moved said tree to the sunporch, wrapping it fondly at night, and hoping that the sun would somehow beam down from the west, and not only did it survive, it even presented me with six blossoms. I was ecstatic. For the first time, perhaps, just perhaps, I could actually have success with something green.

In time it moved to the deck, and seemed to be quite content there. More blossoms. And then, one morning, four miniscule lemons – the size of a good-sized seed, but still, visible to the naked eye. Each morning I’d rise early to check. Still there. Not growing, but still there. Until….one morning all buds gone, devoured I’m sure, by a nocturnal visitor.

But I still visited early each a.m., sure that this tree would not fail me. And one morning, two tiny hard green things, which had to be lemons. Tree vs. animal – tree would not give up. And they grew, slowly, while I gave silent thanks to the god of lemons.

Last week, only one lemon remained. Unripe, so I hope that the creature who stole the second didn’t get dyspepsia – or maybe I hope he did.

So here I am, nurturing my one remaining lemon. It is still dark green; it is still rock hard, but this morning I think I glimpsed a glimpse of yellow. I am hopeful.

So, what have I learned?

That you can watch, you can nurture, you can hope, but nature always trumps humans, whether it’s the Outer Banks, Calvert Cliffs, or a sweet lemon tree on my deck.

Another Sunday, http://www.cynthiastrauff.com