Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My dad set his spoon down, still regarding the hollowed-out grapefruit half on the kitchen table in front of him.  Tonari’s tree is good,” he said, as much to himself as to me.  “I think I’ll go get me one.”

Tonari is what he and my mother often called my “Uncle” Mits, our neighbor with whom we have been bonded by land.   He and Mits periodically compared notes about how their trees were doing on their adjacent lots, former orange groves.   We didn’t have a grapefruit tree, and my dad liked having one in the morning.

Later he showed me the label on the tree he brought home from the nursery.  It was a then-new hybrid, developed as I now know, at UC Riverside, a cross between a white grapefruit and a pomelo called oroblanco.  The pomelo features make it large and very sweet; oroblancos are true to their “white gold” name for eating.

Once my dad’s tree started bearing fruit and he started giving them away, his became the grapefruit of choice among our family and friends.  After you had tasted one of my dad’s, the smallish tart ones off the large tree in my front yard just didn’t hack the breakfast scene any longer.   During the season, we would bring his grapefruit home from Peralta Hills to Pasadena, while my own plentiful but outclassed grapefruits found their way into marmalades, chutneys, and candied peel.  

When I landscaped my back yard three years ago, I put high priority on planting three semi-dwarves of exactly the citrus varieties I wanted: a navel orange, a Meyer lemon, and, yes, an oroblanco grapefruit.  The lemon started bearing fruit the very first year.  Then last year was the first year the orange kicked in.  I was excited to see my first oranges ripening on the tree, when one morning, much to my dismay and annoyance, I watched a squirrel scamper off with first ripe one.

Now this spring for the first time, my own oroblanco is crowded with fruit, as well as with buds, ready to pop.  In a few days, my backyard will have the fragrance I love of citrus blossoms.  Maybe this is why my taste in perfume and lotions have gravitated to citrus and floral scents.   

At the two-week mark after a treatment, I’m feeling much better.  I can tell I’m back to normal again, as I’ve regained interest in eating something besides variations of chicken soup, in cooking at all, in poking around the garden, now in daylight-savings evening light, to see what I could collect for dinner.  Some arugula, kale, parsley, mint, and grapefruit segments, tossed with lemon olive oil?  Some baby beets sautéed with oranges?  Some “Bright Lights” Swiss chard and sugar snap peas in (more) soup or over pasta?

After a couple of weeks of feeling crummy in body and soul, I’m happy to be happy with spring springing, and the accomplishment of having my own oroblanco tree.  I know; a grapefruit tree might not do much for you, but it does something good for me.  

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