Tuesday, February 5

Gifts that enslave

About 15 years ago, a friend gave us a teensy little orange tree, something that “my mother planted from seed,” said friend said. Oh, how cute, we said. This act should be outlawed; it’s like giving someone a dog, or worse, a cat. A good portion of your life will be devoted to keeping the darned thing alive. We should have given her a horse in exchange. Sweet revenge.

We watched as the cute little tree quickly outgrew its pot, and finally planted it in the ground. Since that time the little tree grew into a big tree and developed the habit of growing so many oranges each year that it threatened to break its darling branches from the weight of its abundant fruit. It’s a Seville orange, one of the bitterest, sourest of all oranges, suitable only for making marmalade.

Now it’s harvest season. Recent snows didn’t manage to kill the fruit, so we finally succumbed to the necessity of picking, so far, about fifteen gallons of tiny oranges. The tree still bears at least another ten gallons of oranges, between the size of golf balls and tennis balls on its tender branches. Oh how wonderful. So now it’s washing, slicing, squeezing, boiling, scraping out the pulp, and finally chopping thousands of peelings, adding ungodly amounts of sugar so it doesn’t destroy your duodenum on contact, and “canning” (why isn't it called “jarring?”) so much marmalade it makes you sick.

Tasty stuff, though, when the pain is over.

2 comments:

HHhorses said...

One day (or three) of tortuous labor for a year's worth of tooth-rotting sweets is definitely worth it. Of course it would be equally worth it just to weed-whack the stupid, inch-long-spiked thing into the ground, too. Oh, the times I've picked a nasty sour little orange only to see arterial blood spurting as my reward; it's horrifying.

By the way, can you send us some more marmalade? It's so incredibly yummy that we're guilty of sitting down with a whole jar and just EATING it.

Tom Hurley said...

That’s right, I forgot about the inch-long spikes this tree has in abundance. Picking the fruit is done at one’s peril!