Abundance and Good Fortune

Winter blew in to Austin early this year with a quick, November freeze that lingered in the biting wind, gray skies, and unseasonably cold temperatures.

"Don't forget to bring in my orange tree," Ruby reminded me.
Satsuma orange

"I won't forget."

"And the lemon tree," she insisted.

"And the lemon," I said.

She furrowed her brow at me, such seriousness from a child is hard to resist.

"Remember how you didn't listen to me last year and you killed the lemon tree?"

"I'll give you that I didn't listen and left the lemon out. But it didn't die. A freeze won't kill its core."

"So, will you bring them in?"

"Yes. Stop worrying."

Ruby is sensitive to her citrus trees, a Meyer Lemon and a Satsuma Mandarin, ever since she had to leave her first one, a beautiful Mexican Lime, behind at our first house; she still mourns the loss of that first tree. Back then, she played in a rich, dark loamy "mud pit" while I transformed our miserably hot, wasteland of a backyard in East Austin, into a lush, flowering oasis of local plants under the protection of a scraggly pecan. I taught her how and when to plant and which insects were friend and which were foe. She excitedly pointed out an enormous wasp nest clinging to the eve on the side of the house.

"They aren't bothering us there," I said. "Wasps are like spiders. If they are not a danger to you, always leave them because they are our friends."

I taught her about symbiosis. She tagged along with me as I took a long bamboo pole and poked holes in the tent worm nests spotting the pecan tree.

"Now the wasps can get into the nests and feast. They will reward us for our kindness and understanding."

The wasps prospered, and in return, we ate a lot of pecans that year... the first year that the tree made more than the fat squirrels could eat. I cracked them against each other in my hand and we shared the nutty-sweet meat.

trees in the house, sheltered from the freeze
When we moved, Ruby said a long goodbye to her lime tree and her mud pit. In the intervening years, we searched, but never found the right lime tree to replace the one she had left behind. Instead, we acquired other citrus trees that begged us to give them a home. Ruby knows I'm a sucker when it comes to plants and books and exploits both of those weaknesses at every opportunity, so I suspect that at our annual trip to the nursery in early spring, she'll convince me to add a lime to our potted orchard.

This morning, the Satsuma and the Meyer stand in our living room. Ruby and a friend sit not far away eating steaming pancakes and drinking hot cocoa-- Christmas music plays on the record player, and I am struck by the symbiosis of the moment. The Satsuma is a symbol of abundance and good fortune, which we have brought into our house, out of the cold, and it has rewarded us with sweet fruit.


#Mandarin #lemon #citrus #gardening #family #parenting #Austin #Texas #nature #backyard #wasps #pecans #freeze #symbiosis #abundance #luck #GoodFortune


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