Wednesday, February 3, 2010


My parents have a Meyer Lemon tree. It is prolific, weighted down with little globes of liquid sunshine. It wasn’t always a great producer. The tree was transplanted from my grandparent’s house after my grandpa passed away at sixty-five. He left suddenly in early December after he had made all the Christmas gifts and signed the cards. In the age before cell phones we heard the word as we walked in from my elementary school Christmas musical. We immediately got back in the car and sped silently towards the bad news. The house was sold and my mom took the lemon tree. The transplant was tenuous the first few seasons. The tree, in shock and mourning, rebelled; folded its dry, wilted arms in protest. But, when it looked like the tree would add insult to tragedy, leaves appeared. Then lemons. A few at first. Then more the following year, time and distance bringing strength and fruit. Enough for lemon bread, lemon zest, Christmas baskets. Sliced into water. Squeezed into tea. Full grocery bags delivered to a friend-owner of a gourmet bakery. So many this year, they fell forlorn and rolled around the yard.

I asked for a few to come by mail. I was hosting tea in honor of an out of town friend. A few Meyers in the water would say, “Hey, this is a special occasion. This person is worth celebrating with a bit of color.” A little summer freshness to distract from grey skies and northern temperatures. Tea was at two o’clock. Lemons arrived behind the first guest. Just in time. First-class, flat rate meant that after I had filled a glass bowl, there were still enough for sharing. The children happily carried one in each hand to their teachers on Monday. Six went into Mike’s couscous recipe, which Miss Patti shared with us. One was delivered to cheer a friend who had said good-bye to her dog the day before. Mid-day iced lemon water reminded my husband at work that we appreciate him.

My mom says it is as if her dad gives her lemons each year, at just the time his absence hurts the worst. Only God could have known that lemon juice in a wound would be a salve.

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