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Posted By Alex Belth On January 5, 2012 @ 11:44 am In Arts and Culture,breakfast,Childhood,Food Memories,Food Porn,Memoir,Taster's Cherce | Comments Disabled
In 1974, when I was three years old, my grandparents returned from a trip to Florida with a gift for my mother and my aunt. They carried it in a box, a few small branches of an orange tree. My aunt planted hers and it died immediately but mom, who has a way with plants and flowers, potted the branch and it grew into a small bush. For years, it didn’t produce any fruit. Then, a few, small yellowish oranges appeared, too sour to eat.
Still, mom brought the orange tree with us when we left Manhattan and it survived a divorce, a new marriage, and five homes.
In a recent e-mail, she explained:
I had close-to-death encounters with this one: once going on vacation and finding it all dried up, I put a plastic tent over it and misted it to bring it back to life. Another time one of the cats peed in the dirt and nearly killed it. I had to wash the roots and repot the tree. I kept my fingers crossed on that one, I can tell you. Before we left Croton, a bug infestation, the tree got covered with scales. I hand picked the bugs and spay each leave on the top and on the bottom…
The tree survived and then flourished once mom moved up to Vermont two years ago.
I never knew you could eat the fruits. Then in a catalog recently, I read that a calamondin is a cross between a clementine and a kumquat.
This fall, as by conspiracy, the tree was covered with the biggest fruits ever. (The Vermont air and the Vermont compost…) So I decided to try to make marmalade. I added an orange to brake down the tartness of the calamondin, and bingo. Delicious, tart but nor sour, clementine-parfumed marmalade. The natural pectin in the fruit worked like a charm. All I needed was sugar and cute little pots.
She needed more than that. Patience, devotion, love. Mom’s got it. Got it in spades . It took close to forty years but she never gave up on her little plant, and I can’t wait to taste the marmalade.
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