Sunday, May 3, 2020

INTO MAY

The first three days of May have begun with the traditional Southern California "May gray," which next month will become "June gloom." This designates foggy mornings that usually evaporate into sunshine but they are dreary beginnings although they also usually mean that the days will be cooler than in  later months as summer comes in, hot and dry.  True to form, the sun came out casting dappled shade on the brick patio beneath the grapevines.  As I walked around the yard I noticed how growth has accelerated although the exuberant April rains have ended.  The blossoms are almost gone on the orange trees, and I have to go out every day to gather the oranges that the crows have knocked down before they can puncture them for their breakfast or lunch.  There are still some blossoms on the grapefruit tree, and more on the lemon tree, but the black marauders leave that fruit alone.
The weeping mulberry trees are covered in fruit that is just beginning to turn pink from green, but it won't be ripe until it is a deep purple, probably in June. When it is, I go out every morning and eat mulberries until my mouth and fingers are dyed a deep aubergine. 
I picked the first peaches today--they aren't quite ripe but should ripen indoors, and I can see that a bird or two is checking just as I am.  The apricot tree also has tiny fruit--last year we had our first real harvest in the 35 years we've lived here.  The fruit was bite size, but delicious.  
I only managed to get two sugar snap peas to sprout this year, and I'm not sure they'll get to maturity before it's too hot. But I did plant four tomato plants just before we had the deluge of rain, and they all appear to be growing and blossoming with a future harvest seeming possible.
I am thankful the fruit seems to come with a minimum of labor, except for fighting off the birds, and I usually don't mind them taking a small percentage.  It's the raccoons that ravage the grapes and I've never figured out a way to defeat them.  
I used to spend hours every day in the garden, from the year when we bought our first house, and I had to have a neighbor tell me what was coming up in the middle of the yard (crocuses), and in what appeared to be a garden and flower beds (daffodils, hyacinths and tulips).  The couple who lived in the house before us in New Jersey had planted hundreds of bulbs on our half acre, and I added to them every year that we were there, and those flowers are what I miss most about living on the East Coast.  They were the ones in evidence when I was at Monet's gardens in Giverny last April, and it was a heavenly afternoon.
Although I miss the spectacular color of my spring garden in New Jersey, I don't think that I could ever give up the astonishing fragrance of the orange blossoms here. They are tiny white flowers, but I try to get outside and glory in the scent every day when they are in bloom.  There are many flowers that I love to smell--freesias and Mirandy roses especially, but if I had to choose only one it would be the orange blossom.  On a warm early spring evening, we have their perfume carried all the way from the back of the house up to the kitchen door, and I love to imagine that the gates of heaven will be surrounded by eternally blossoming orange trees.

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