Magazine article Sunset

The Sunniest Gift

Magazine article Sunset

The Sunniest Gift

Article excerpt

ONE DAY SOON AFTER WE MOVED into our San Francisco home, I found the tiny patio dotted with bright yellow lemons. A large citrus tree lorded over a neighboring backyard, but how did a dozen of its fruit end up on our bricks? Then I saw the ripped plastic bag. Apparently our neighbor, an older woman I'd only glimpsed, had tossed a bag of her crop over the fence--a housewarming gift.

At Christmastime in the kitchen of my grandparents' house in Long Beach, California, there was always a box of oranges or grapefruit, to eat and to give as gifts. My grandfather had grown up on the East Coast, and the concept of a sunshine-filled orange in the dead of winter was one that delighted him until he died.

It's easy to forget that Western lemons and limes have a season. We get all fussy about eating heirloom tomatoes in August or apricots in June, then take for granted the citrus mounded in supermarkets year-round, as if they're just another seasonless ingredient like salt or vinegar. We forget that, for generations of Westerners, particularly Californians, an oranze was a Christmas miracle. …

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