Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lemon Tree

Several years ago I started a lemon tree.

It began as a lemon wedge resting on top of the ice in a glass of water in a restaurant at which I was eating. Soon a seed was squeezed out of the lemon wedge and sucked on for several minutes until all the slimy coating was sucked off. I then commenced drying the woody coating by rubbing the seed between my palms until it no longer felt slippery. The husky coating was then stripped off using my stubby little fingernails a little at a time revealing a brown papery coating underneath. The papery coating was then carefully scraped so as not to damage the seed underneath until it gave way and started to peel off. What was left was a slick yellow seed with a tinge of green.

Several hours later I planted that seed in a pot of dirt and watered it for many weeks until a fragile ovate leaf on a thin stalk appeared. This is usually where I would forget to water it and it would promptly turn brown and shrivle to nothing and the gnats would begin to swarm or a squirrel would try and bury a pecan in the pot. Or the one time i remembered to water it but forgot to give it drain holes and it drowned. This time however I remembered to do all the right things and it didn't die. It didn't even turn brownish. It also didn't grow past three inches for the better part of five years.

Two springs ago I got the idea to bring this plant to the office since I had a window and could give it daily attention and I needed a plant to brighten up the cubicle.

The little sprout seemed to think this was a good idea too and began to grow, to evryone's suprise since I had told them the story up to this point too. It started with just a little sprout to the side of the last leaf, of which it had four, and continued to get taller and taller.

Not wanting it to grow in too controlled of an environment I put it on the balcony of the office. This wouldn't be and wasn't a problem since the balcony was a good nine feet above the ground level, even though the office was a one story building since it was built on the side of a hill.

On the balcony I started feeding it ice instead of water because the temperatures were getting so hot and no rain was falling. Under these extreme conditions, freezing water on the roots and hundred degree air on the leaves, it thrived. That summer and fall it grew two feet and at least thirty leaves, most of which it still has since lemon trees are evergreens. It even still has a couple of it's original four leaves at the base of the trunk.

I use the word trunk loosely since it's still only as large around as my pinky finger.

Today I brought it inside to face a much more dangerous peril, the cats. i can only hope the two inch thorns are enough to keep the cats from eating all of the leaves off and killing it. It has been through freezing weather already this year but tonight it's supposed to get into the twenties. As far as I know it has never been exposed to such temperatures and I'm not in the mood to find out if it can this year. Maybe when the trunk gets bigger and I get it planted in the ground I will face this petrifying ordeal. I'm not sure if I'm ready to face the disapointment if it dies. I have very few things in my life that I have had longer and care as much about. There is of course my wife of twelve years and my cats of ten and eleven. There are also a few odds and ends that I have kept since my childhood that bring back memories when I didn't have to pay bills or have a job.

I am trying to sprout some other lemon, lime, and orange trees to add to the citrus family I've started but I don't think any of them can be a replacement to the only tree I have yet to, and don't plan to, kill.

I have asked my wife where I should put the tree, but so far we haven't come up with any viable locations. The cats get everywhere.

This picture is of the tree in front of the front door where I set it down due to the weight. It's not so much the weight of the tree as much as the weight of the pot it's planted in.

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