25 July, 2011

Sweet Lemons

My wedding anniversary sneaks up on me each year. It marks the passing of time for me much more clearly than my birthday ever will, because I can remember every year I've been married, whereas there are entire years and seasons I cannot remember from childhood (in spite of my freaky ability to recall events from the past).

We don't celebrate our anniversary like many couples do. We are hardly Hallmark, but we do exchange cards some years. I can't remember the last time we exchanged anniversary presents, and as much as I love fresh cut flowers, I haven't seen (nor would I hope to see) any long-stemmed red roses.

One thing Descartes has purchased for me over the years, and is much more representative of who we are... are fruit trees. On our property we have a cherry, an apple, a tangelo, a kumquat, an avocado, a Behr lime, a pomegranate, and the jewel of them all, the Meyer lemon tree.

When I awoke this morning I remembered that Descartes gave me that Meyer lemon tree right after we got married. He gave me the lemon and the lime. They were in large heavy pots that were too big for them, and we put them out on the cracked little patio of the teeny, tiny post-war housing-boom-era house that was the first "real house" we lived in. That house was so small that if Descartes put his shoes down on the bedroom floor there was nowhere to walk. And it was oddly chopped up, because somehow in an 850 square foot house, we had two bathrooms and three bedrooms and a laundry room, and room for a piano and a dining room table. We were so happy not to be living under someone, or with someone, and buying those trees made it feel like it was really our little house.

We moved the next summer and took the trees with us to our new home on the Peninsula, a house near Descartes' shiny new office, and much closer to mine. It was hot there, unlike the misty cool of Berkeley. It was especially hot that summer, and the owner of our rental house chose to landscape with lava rock, which just sucked in the heat and kept it there. We left for a seven week tour of Europe to celebrate our one year anniversary and had to leave those poor little trees. I worried about them so much that I bought special water gel capsule things that were very expensive at the time, and I prayed they would last that long without water; we didn't have any friends yet nearby that we could even ask to water the plants.

The trees were barely alive when we came home, but they struggled through. We had one lemon that year. I remember because I used it as a garnish on a salmon I made my parents, and Descartes' parents when they came to see our little lava rock house.

And then we got pregnant, and we decided to move again. We looked at houses, took a deep breath, and spent every dime we had putting a down payment on a house.

The trees are in the front yard of that house now, along with all the other fruit trees we've acquired. The lime is still properly a dwarf lime, it's branches spread about three feet across and it is just as tall. But the lemon tree forgot it's grafted roots and spreads 10 feet across and more than 6 feet high. It is prolific. There are lemons year-round, and they are sweet and amazing, and the perfection of what we think a lemon should taste like.

I hardly ever water the lemon and it's still out there, right now,  flowering, and heavy with fruit. We will make home made lemonade this summer; Lucy still wants to make a stand on the corner. And I've chopped a bunch of them up to put in sangria which I served over 4th of July weekend. And I'll make candied lemon peel at Christmas, and serve twists and slices in whatever drink Squid decides is her favorite. And make lemon curd, and what else I'll do...the list is as long as the ways Bubba's mom makes shrimp.

The tree in the yard makes me happy every time I see it, even I hadn't really thought, until today, how far that tree had come with us. We've been through a lot of things in the last 13 years of marriage, and that tree has been around for all of it.

We've taken down wallpaper, made beautiful babies, put up pickles, and played on beaches. We have conquered MRSA, snaked all the drains, and robbed Peter to pay Paul. We've made homemade wild plum jam and our own beer, that was worth drinking. We have happily navigated the loneliest road in America, strapped babies in a LandCruiser to put them to sleep, and driven each other crazy.

Showing our children a national park or pulling weeds in the front yard, we have the same goals in life, and we are good together.  And when it's hard, we are still good together. We make the best of things, and we treasure the moments that life is sweet. I am so grateful for every year we've had together.


I love you and our life filled with lemons, lots of sweet, beautiful lemons. I would choose you again.
Happy anniversary to my wonderful husband.

p.s. sorry you are reading this at the same time as the entire interwebs. uhm. yeah.

a version of this post was an editor's pick today at OpenSalon.com 

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