Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lemons in Winter

We don't have the seven foot drifts of snow that Boston is trying to cope with, but we are having a snowy, very cold winter here. It's two feet deep on the ground, drifts are higher, and it is bitterly cold.

It is below zero when I wake up, and in the teens or sometimes into the 20s in the day.

The wind blew ferociously a few days ago and stripped the sweetbay magnolia's leaves. Usually the sweetbay holds its leaves all winter and then looks raggy in May just before the new foliage pushes the old leaves off.

But when it gets so cold, the leaves panic, curl up and then get blown off to scatter across the blank white expanse of snow in the back yard.

The Polar Vortex is back, just like last year.

But I have lemons!

While the snow blows and swirls around us and thick cakes of frosty ice coat the lower panes of our windows, I have been tending my Meyer lemon tree. It looks great.

The leaves are glossy. I fertilize it with special citrus fertilizer every week or so, and I water faithfully.

It sits in a pool of winter sunshine briefly in the morning, but I need to use a bright floor lamp that stands over it shining light from late in the morning until I go to bed at night. Lemons need a lot of light.

It was outside on the deck all summer, getting full bright sun. I brought it inside in October.

In November it bloomed. The fragrance was heady. It was a very sweet smell, almost too much, but intoxicating just as winter was coming on.

In December green nubs appeared where the blossoms had fallen off and I was thrilled. I started collecting Meyer lemon recipes on Pinterest.

In January the nubs grew a little and my excitement at having lemons in winter soared. I began buying the other ingredients needed for my recipe collection.

In February the green baby lemons are still there, small and hard and green. I'm trying to remain patient.

In March we are going away. Will the lemons all ripen while we are gone? Of course.

It's a pretty tree, adding greenery and interest inside while we are cooped up indoors in the white, icy torment of this year's Polar Vortex.  I love looking at it, especially when the morning sun falls on the deep green leaves and little green fruits.

But I want a crop of ripe yellow lemons, dammit. Some time this winter.

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