My kids were with my parents for part of spring break, up north visiting my aunt. They returned home with a cooler full of freshly picked oranges They are incredible and we are basking in the glory that is fresh citrus.
I can only assume we are called the golden state because Californians were under a trance, picking orange globes of golden sunshine off of trees, peeling away the fragrant rinds, juice dripping down arms and chins. The skin is the perfect brightness, and the segments somehow one degree brighter, translucent rays of light.
Fresh oranges are as mesmerizing as the Mediterranean Sea. When we were in Greece and I stood on the white beaches and gazed into the pure blue water, though I could not swim, and though sea urchins littered the sand just under the blue, I was drawn in. I was pulled into the water by beauty and I kept thinking about the Iliad and the sirens. There were sirens in that water, I tell you. And there are angels of comfort and sustenance tending orange trees in California.
When we first moved to California I was pregnant and broke and lonely and overwhelmed and I missed my friends with such a deep ache. And though it seemed pathetic to me, I thought that the fresh fruit, the 10 lb bag of organic oranges we bought on Sunday after church for $7 at the Hollywood farmers market from Burkhart Farms was a nice consolation prize. It was not as nice as having friends, but it would last almost the whole week, we could carry it home in the bottom of the stroller, and it was a comfort in my sadness.
Wes said later, that the smell of coffee and oranges together will always be the smell the of our Koreatown apartment garbage. The garbage was continually filled with coffee grounds and orange peels, both fragrant. This is a grace, too, I suppose since we had two in diapers in that era. Now, in orange season our garbage is filled with those smells again and most mornings one of us will state in the midst of a quiet morning, "Orange peels and coffee grinds." as we empty an aeropress of grounds or a plate of peels.
It is a bit of a prayer of thanks, when I say it. For oranges. For coffee. For those days. For these days. For memories and someone who remembers.