Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Arboreal Baby

The Upper West Side has an unfortunate dearth of Meyer lemon trees, and I've decided it's time to right this imbalance. When I was growing up, my family had a Meyer lemon tree in our San Francisco backyard, and I firmly believe that, from a culinary perspective, these lemons result in superior lemon bars, sorbets, and roast chicken (to name a few gastronomical possibilities). As a result, I'm now growing one of these trees my in apartment. I can't take full credit for its lush canopy and tempting little lemon buds, however; Four Winds Farms raised my darling from seed to second year seedling, and then packed it in sawdust and shipped it east to my sunny living room. 
Prior to the tree's arrival, I sped around the UWS like a nervous mother-to-be, only instead of seeking nursery paint swatches and bassinet models I was on the lookout for optimal potting soil and fertilizer. On a few occasions I wish I had access to a car and a big box store like 99% of America--another recent such occurrence began with a search for a croquet set under $20 and ended with me cursing my 'burbs-less existence in the sketchy basement of the KMART on W 34th and 7th--and this situation also easily qualified. After paying an obscene amount for the world's simplest 10" diameter terracotta pot, I broke down and hailed a cab; I may be strong and tough, but carrying said pot and a massive bag of potting soil eight crowded UWS blocks was just more than I could stomach. 

Once the tree was delivered, potted, and watered, my anxieties only increased. Was it growing? Over-watered? Under-watered? Happy? Sad? Why couldn't it tell me?! Actually, I soon learned that my tree communicates quite well; when half the leaves turned yellow and fell off, I realized that, yes, it was both sad and over-watered. And when one of its little lemons started to grow with the ferocity of a butterfly pupa, I knew that it was at least marginally happy. 
In the last couple of weeks, two beautiful white flowers buds have emerged, blossomed, and peeled away to reveal two new baby lemon buds, and in the process they filled my apartment with a gorgeous scent that carried me right back to the West Coast. Hopefully it's only a matter of time until we're all enjoying Meyer lemon tarts and vinaigrettes!
The Marvelous Meyer Lemon Blossom: A Play In Three Acts

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