Friday, February 06, 2009
Once upon a time in a rather pricey apartment in midtown Atlanta there lived a girl who purchased a lemon tree. She acquired the tree on whim one day while purchasing a literal ton of dirt at home depot. It was an early day and she was implored by her father to take his monster truck to the home depot to purchase the dirt they needed for their garden. That same garden grew so wild and bountiful that particular summer. She has bittersweet memories of being stung by the spiky little thorns, deep into the summer, while picking the squash that fed her entire family. She has a very big family so this was no small feat.
So we place the girl at home depot with the monster truck and her father’s credit card. She had been dreaming of fields of lavender and olive trees and so the lemon tree display was something that fit into her romanticized version of the artisan life she wanted to live. She bought the tree with her father’s card and jokingly told him thanks for the lemon tree as she loaded it into her smaller truck to take home when the day’s planting had finished.
This is a very fond memory for the girl.
She found a beautiful decorative pot large enough to house a young tree and placed the tree on her back porch in a particularly sunny corner. She cared for the tree, watering it and protecting it from visiting guests. When she had someone over that she didn’t trust not to ash in her lemon tree pot or carelessly rub their chair against the leaves, she herself would sit by the tree to ensure no harm would come in it’s direction. The tree made beautiful fragrant flowers that then fruited and began to grow what appeared to be limes.
People made good fun of the girl and told her she had a lime tree not a lemon tree. She told them they did not know anything of her tree and if they just waited long enough they would see that it was in fact a lemon-bearing tree not a lime tree. Eventually she herself grew impatient and cut the green citrus fruit to add to Mexican beer, but not all of it. She left three fruit on the tree to grow to their full potential.
She began to loose hope that the limes would ever turn into lemons and it became a joke among her circle of friends. Thne one day the last remaining lime started to turn yellow. It continued to grow from a low branch until it finally, plumply sat on the top of the dirt in the pot. Pulling it’s branch down with it’s massive weight. She waited more, she watered it more, she cared for the tree more. She had the tree, rather large at that point, moved inside when the cold came and continued to care for her one remaining lemon.
When the girl finally decided to leave her life, leave her city and leave her lemon tree* she cut the lemon and carried it with her to her temporary residence. While cleaning out the depths of her pantry before leaving her home she found a canister of culinary lavender that she had ordered in the previous year when her dreams of fields of lavender were at their height. She brought the lavender with her as well.
It was on no particular evening, deep into winter, passed the rush of holiday cheer and too soon for any sign of spring, that the girl decide to bake a cake with lemon and the lavender**.
She made a masterpiece. She knew it was only a cake and would not be preserved for all time as she had somehow hoped these dreams of hers would remain. She used her ingredients and it filled up the house she was staying in with a heavenly aroma of Meyer lemon and lavender. She will keep this cake recpipe in her repertoire of special cakes she makes for special occasions.
She was happy and sad. She was joyous and devastated. She was embracing of her future and mournful of her past. She will let go, she will move on. She will be okay, better than okay. Her life will be filled with different kinds of aromatic magic in a distant land. She will eat this cake while she celebrates and mourns the passing of time and youth and broken dreams and hearts. She will remember all that she has lived through with each bite of her magical cake and at the end of her slice… She will let go of these things and step boldly into her future.
*In, the end the girl decided to give the lemon tree to her father as she knew he would carefully tend to it’s branches and fruit for as long as it was able to live. She knew that he would think of her each time it fruited and want her to see the fruit and his heart would be as heavy as hers will be each spring when she feels that unstoppable urge to dig in the ground and understands that it is something inside of her bones. It is a lineage and a heritage to come from a people who till the earth for their bounty. And she will think of her father and yearn for his guidance with her garden.
**She took the lavender with her to Morocco. She is planning on making the cake again soon and she figures she can get some damn lemons there.