Honeysuckle and Lemon

I still think about the trees and vines we planted at our house in Dinuba and left behind in 1987 when we moved to Oregon. In front, on the south side of our yard, there were three poplars and a peach tree � the old-time, white-fleshed Nectar variety. We had several roses, a Chinese tallow tree, a row of sticky-white oleanders, a liquid-amber tree, and a walnut tree. Vigorous honeysuckle smothered the brick pillars and crowded the eaves on our porch. On the north end of the house, there was a dense grove of about eighty eucalyptus trees which, had we stayed, we would have thinned for firewood.

Climbing up the four-by-fours on our back porch and onto the roof was a profusely blooming trumpet vine the hummingbirds loved. Next to our well and not far from the eucalyptus trees was a thriving Eureka lemon tree. We had so many lemons, and they tasted so good, I used to slice them into quarters and eat them at the kitchen sink in the mornings when I first got up.

Just outside the east-facing kitchen window we had lilacs. A few feet from our back door, I had trained six boysenberry plants onto a rugged wooden framework made of grape stakes and ten-foot orchard props � very pleasing to the eye. Just north of our barn was a beautiful Black Mission fig tree. In front of that was an apricot tree, and in front of the barn itself on the west side were an olive tree and a pomegranate tree. Like the trumpet vine, when a pomegranate is in bloom, its pinkish-orange flowers attract hummingbirds.

A narrow gravel path began at the back door. It curved past the lilacs and the kitchen window, then made a gradual turn near the pomegranate tree and headed east past our goat pen. There the path died out and gave way to bare hard ground. Across from the lilacs, on the other side of the path, there were grapes, our favorite variety being the heavy-seeded, fragrant-tasting muscat.

Our garden space was in a big open area between the boysenberries and the lemon tree. Our main crops were tomatoes, squash, eggplant, peppers, and Armenian cucumbers. We roasted almost all of the peppers, and some of the eggplant, on our barbecue over an aromatic bed of grape-wood coals.

The house and yard occupied not quite half an acre. The area was surrounded by vineyards and orchards. The house itself was a small, simple affair, hidden away about 400 feet off the main road, and situated beside a narrow oiled dirt avenue that ran between our farm and the neighbor�s to the west.

It was quiet there. Our goat used to go with us on walks, and look out at the world with its crazy-bright eyes.

October 18, 2005

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