Ever since I can remember, I have had fruit trees in my yard. My childhood home was surrounded by six orange trees and six grapefruit trees. With the whole neighborhood saturated in citrus trees, the intoxicating fragrance of orange blossoms was as thick as smoke in the spring. I used to "ice" mud pies with those little white blossoms. In late fall and into the winter, the fruit on our trees was so abundant we'd often hire help to haul some of it away. And I clearly remember being sent out into the yard with my sister, plastic baggies fastened to our hands (who needs latex gloves?), to pick up fruit that had dropped and lay rotting on the ground. One year, my father even brewed his own grapefruit wine in our laundry room. Four Christmases ago, we toasted the very last bottle of that concoction (aged over 20 years), fondly remembering our family home in the grove!
My current house has just one orange tree, which is much easier to handle and produces more than enough for a family of four. Over the last week, Selby and I have begun to collect just-ripe oranges from our backyard bounty. I quarter them up and the girls devour them, sticky sweet juice dripping down their arms and covering their delicate faces. Today, we squeezed some for morning juice - always best drank out of small mason jars. And there's nothing like fresh-squeezed OJ, over ice, with a splash of Absolut.
We also have a lemon tree in our backyard that produces big, beautiful lemons, which will soon ripen to a perfect shade of sunshine. And several banana trees hang out down by the water, bearing bunches of small, flavorful bananas year-round. Once good and ripe, I'm going to use some of the ones pictured below to make banana bread for the holidays.
As I recall my sweet, orange-tinted childhood memories, I am ever more grateful for my current backyard bounty. I appreciate not only the tasty fruit it bears, but also the memories - already in the making - it will produce for my girls. Come spring, Selby will inherit the wisdom & technique of an orange blossom-frosted mud pie, baked in the sunshine of a Florida backyard!