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Things That Make Me Cry

Today, I am making a global appeal. Well, maybe a tropical climate appeal. Really just a citrus fruit climate appeal.

Now I’m an east coast girl. Born and raised. I have nothing California in me, I’m way too type-A for the west coast way. And way too fair.


I do envy one thing. One very large, important, magnificent thing.

You people over on this coast can grow things that the people on the east coast can’t. Citrus trees to be exact. Beautiful, dazzling citrus trees, packed with all of these bulbous jewels. They are everywhere that I walk. They taunt me. I would like nothing more than to pluck every last one of them from the trees and make Meyer lemon preserves, candied zest, clementine sorbet, grapefruit granita, orange juice! OH orange juice. Right in my back yard.

But I live on the one square inch of land in California that does not have a citrus tree growing. So I can only look longingly. Jealously.

But then, the worst part happens… as I walk day after day, I realize that the tree branches are getting heavier and heavier. The fruit is getting to be “low hanging” as it weighs the tree down… This is because no one is picking their fruit.

And so I weep a little bit for each lemon. For each orange. For each grapefruit that will go wasted.

And I contemplate knocking on each persons door and asking if they would like a lesson in preserving their Meyer lemons.

And then I chicken out and contemplate dropping an anonymous note in their mailbox.

And then I chicken out even more and go home and simply write to you about it.

This lovely neighbor polishes her motorcycle and rakes her leaves while the lemons watch, unnoticed.

I swear this was a persimmon tree just a few months ago… hm. Well it’s a lemon tree now and equally neglected!

Two brimming bushes.

I saw a homeless man help himself to one of these oranges.

At least some one’s getting some use out of them…

Now this is just a crime. Do you know how much they charge for a box of these at Trader Joe’s?!

Alas, the first moldy lemon of the season. My heart hurts.

Grapefruit. Grapefruit with maple syrup. Grapefruit juice. Grapefruit popsicles! MMm.

The smell of Meyer lemons is one of the most intoxicating. Why not just pick them to carry in your pockets and smell all day if nothing else Mr. Meyer Lemon Owner??

See? They’re crying too.

I think the act of picking too is satisfying. It probably explains my mild obsession with apple picking in the fall. There’s something about the harvest… harvesting, picking… perhaps there’s some twisted psychology behind that, but for now I’ll stick to believing that I’m just a girl who doesn’t like wasted food with so much potential.

Unrealized potential is the worst. Particularly with food. Food that can be picked. With a step stool and a wicker basket and a good hand with a good grip.

This is my appeal to all citrus tree owners in the Bay Area…. email me: [email protected] and I will gladly help you realize all the unrealized potential of your low (and high) hanging fruit.

With admiration, and envy, and jealousy, your friend,



  • Grandma
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Hear! hear! There must be some way to get them to hear. what about a letter to the local newspaper; or notices in the mailboxes suggeting a local food-bank.

  • Kathleen
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    I know, I still go to people's houses here in California and ooooh and ahhhh over their fruit trees (and they're like "uh … yeah."). You see them in parking lots sometimes, it's amazing. Anyway, I imagine you've heard of these Fallen Fruit folks who encourage people to "plant on the perimeter," so the fruit goodness can be shared. They also lead neighborhood "fruit tours," which I hope to go on some time. http://scpr.org/news/2010/02/05/fruit-trees-free/

    • Georgia
      Posted June 2, 2010 at 5:19 pm

      This is awesome Kathleen! Thanks for sharing. I'd heard something about this in L.A… we need to get it in the Bay Area too. Maybe you and I can go on a fruit hunt when I'm in town next : )

      • Kathleen
        Posted June 2, 2010 at 5:21 pm

        Ha! TOTALLY in for a fruit hunt!

  • Peter Gabriel
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Best post ever. I am having my assistant send you a box of lemons from my place in LA –Peter

    • Georgia
      Posted June 2, 2010 at 5:20 pm

      Haha, Peter, you made my day.

  • Julia
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    It's true–oh the pain these people cause us envious folks. When I lived in the Bay Area I was appalled at this waste. Pomegranate, olive and avocado trees, too!! Moldy Meyer lemons- what is going on people?? There is a site a woman in Berkeley started about fallen fruit who have maps of places where the fruit is free for the picking. I think it might have caused some trouble, though. Makes me wonder if anyone from California visits the Hudson Valley and gets irate at all the unkempt apple trees!

  • Clayvessel
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Oh my. Citrus. This is truly a crime. But here in Yankee territory, the same goes on with apples, pears and cherries. Even in the big commercial orchards, bins and bins full of fruit get dumped when they don't sell or it's not worth it to try. It pays to have orchard-owning friends that's for sure! But lemons and clementines. I can't stand it.

  • Georgia
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    People should just share the love more… like put up a sign in front of their tree and say, "feel free to pick these because I don't have time and I hate to see you salivating." Or just leave the basket of them on the curb the way pepole do with their unwanted books on the stoops of Brooklyn.

  • Jaxx
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    I would just march up to their door and ask if I could pick their wasted fruit. I would even offer to make them something delicious with it but no way would I just watch that lovely fruit fall to the ground and rot. Don't be shy! Rescue that fruit from being unloved. It is your sacred duty.

    • Georgia
      Posted June 2, 2010 at 5:23 pm

      You're right Jaxx… why am I so shy?

  • Marianne Paiva
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    You need to drive a bit farther north and come to Chico, where we have acres and acres of citrus in the winter and the best peaches, figs, apricots, nectarines, pluots, cherries, strawberries, and blackberries all through the summer. My mother has three meyer lemon trees and one is so full, it starts producing in November and doesn't drop the last fruit until July and could fund her grandchildren's college education with all the fruit it produces.

    And the peaches….. ah, the peaches. They start ripening in mid May and we don't pick the last one until September; the September tree is by far the most beautiful with fiery red fruit that looks like a sunset when we make jam out of it. I've learned to can and make jam in the last few years just to preserve the flavor of summer and so the fruit doesn't rot on the ground. Unfortunately, I don't have enough friends to give the jam to because there is so much; I have several cases of jam still from last summer in my closet, and will have cases of peaches in a week or two waiting to be frozen, or baked, or jammed as the season starts again.

    Next time you see a loaded tree, go and ask to pick the fruit; the owners of the tree (and yard they make a mess of) will probably be grateful.

    • Post Author
      Posted June 18, 2010 at 12:12 am

      Thanks Marianne : ) I would be happy to visit Chico and help you make fruity concoctions one of these days. You're so lucky to have all of that at your fingertips!!

  • sandy
    Posted August 1, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Florida is just as bad. My grandfather had two HUGE grapefruit trees, a couple of tangerine looking ones, and an orange in his yard, and there were always fruit left to rot. To be fair, we ate our share of them….one grapefruit for each person every morning and sometimes for snacks as well. But the trees were just so many of them. Grandma had issues with strangers, so we never could get anyone to come get them, but I think your post is an excellent one. Hope you have great success with it.

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