November 03, 2022

Article at My Little Bird

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Green Acre #404: When Life Hands You Lemons . . .

iStock photo.

Oh my god. I can’t even. I would murder him.

That was Baby, responding to my Sunday email.

It was morning and I was making my usual tank of coffee, the lights dim to keep my waking slow and gentle, but then I noticed three small green fruits sitting on the kitchen counter.

I hope these are not what I think they are, I muttered to myself, then hefted a mug, retrieved the newspapers from the doorstep, and flopped on the sofa to prime my suddenly black mood on the latest war, plague, and mass murders. Has there been any other news for the past few years?

Hours pass. There’s a rattling above stairs (we watch a lot of British shows). My Prince was awake.

Up the stairs I headed. Leaning casually in the bedroom doorway, watching him pull on his socks, I calmly said: My darling, what are the three fruities on the kitchen counter?

He scratched his gleaming pate.*

I couldn’t breathe.

They’re your limes, he said, tugging on a boot.

The limes from the bush by the pond? I asked, and he nodded, staring at me like, What now?

2017 was a bumper crop for Meyer lemons chez Cavanaugh. Two whole golden orbs. / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

They’re lemons. I said, with admirable calm. My Meyer lemons. They’re green because they’re not ripe. When they’re ripe they’re about twice the size and bright yellow.

One of them was turning yellow, he said. I thought they were going bad.

He did apologize, but sorry doesn’t cut it. This was him clearly thinking that I was being neglectful, as usual, and the “limes” were rotting and so he was doing me a favor.


Oh lordy. This is not a prolific bush. I had one lousy lemon about six years ago. Nothing the next year. Then one a year for the next several years, then this summer THREE! Amazing. I called it my crop and admired them each dawn.

HE DID WHAT??? WHY??? Baby bellowed in an email. This was followed by her suggestion to murder him.

Oh no, Baby, I’m not done with him yet.

The lemon bush (maybe if I flattered it and called it a tree it would be more fruitful) sends out many gorgeously sweet-smelling flowers a few times a year, a scent strong enough to perfume the house when the pot’s inside for the winter. When the flowers drop off, a tiny nubbin of green is exposed. When left alone, this will sometimes grow and grow and grow into a lemon! Most of the time, however, they go somewhere . . .

It’s a mystery to me why some nubbins survive and others are duds.

Almost all of them are duds.

But when one or more or THREE survive, Oh, be still my heart

I’m reminded of the time one of the sweet-potato vines in a window box sprouted a potato. A kind of warped and gnarly-looking item but nevertheless a potato. Who knew such a thing was possible? What am I, a farmer?

This also reminds me of the time Baby, who was perhaps 4, went into the garden and plucked all the tulips for a bouquet for me. It sounds like something I read, but, no, it happened and it was difficult to thank her through my gritted throat. Can one grit a throat?

Meyer lemons are delicious. Surprisingly sweet. Yes, I can buy them at the market, but that’s hardly the issue—these lemons were mine.

So that’s it for the lemons this year. The end. Kaput. At least I got a column out of it.

*I always use the “read aloud” function in Word when I proof my column. Sometimes the computer voice makes mischief. In this case, pate was pronounced paté as if My Prince had slathered his skull with chopped liver.

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