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Monday, December 6, 2021
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HomeOpinionColumnOf life and lemons

Of life and lemons

By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

There are currently five lemons on our lemon tree, and a couple more in the refrigerator. 

I don’t really use a lot of lemon, but it’s nice to have them here. Mostly, I just enjoy the option of having fresh lemon juice or zest if I wanted it, and I enjoy having the tree.

Trees have always been my favorite thing to grow. 

I don’t remember when I planted my first tree, a sugar maple, but I do remember when my aunt cut it down. It broke my heart. 

I also still mourn the peach trees I planted with my mother that had to be taken out for necessary repairs to our basement, which was slowly being caved in by the pressure of the hillside. That entire hillside had to be taken out, including the trees, so the house could be put on support beams and the exterior basement wall replaced. 

Unlike the cutting of the maple tree, it was necessary to save the house. But 30 some odd years later, the loss of those peach trees is still a vivid childhood memory. 

Trees require land, though. If you want them, you have to put down roots. 

Or you learn bonsai.

When I was young and nomadic, I toyed with bonsai; both purchasing already potted plants and training my own from seedling. 

It wasn’t until after I turned 30 that I thought of putting down roots again. That’s when I bought my first lemon tree. I had been living in the same home for several years, and was considering trying to purchase it someday. So, one day, on a whim, I purchased a lime tree and a lemon tree while strolling through the farmers market. They were small, but grafted, so already bearing fruit. 

I wasn’t necessarily ready to put them in the ground yet, but they were in really small containers. I already had some terra cotta planters several sizes larger I could transplant them to until I was ready. So, I did. And they flourished. With regular watering, and the abundant Texas sunlight, they brightened our back porch and produced beautiful fruit. 

They were soon joined by a pair of fig trees, a pomegranate, and several small avocado trees. Though not really trees in a true sense, I also eventually added banana, papaya, and pineapple plants to the mix too. They required a little extra care on the colder days, but Austin winters are generally mild. I was really looking forward to having a diverse little urban orchard someday. 

Then, things changed. Partly a maple tree situation, partly a peach tree, we moved. Then moved again. I gave several trees away, so they could finally put down roots. Others had trouble acclimating and died. 

But the lemon tree did surprisingly well indoors. It continued to give me fruit, to perfume my air with its blossoms, and to brighten my home during the dismal Denver winters. But it did not come home with me to Kentucky. My life then was too unpredictable, so it stayed where it was thriving. 

Several years ago, though, my partner bought me a new lemon tree. It’s been a learning curve growing it in this new space. Finding enough light in our old, small home. Keeping the baby and animals out of it after we moved into a bigger space with better windows. At first I moved it outdoors during the late spring, and back in as the weather grew cold. But this year, I think we’ve found his long term, if not permanent, spot. We’ve had some dead limbs. He has some shoots coming up from his root stock that need pruned. But he gets the southern sun. He has new shoots coming out from the tips of his branches. And he currently has five, bright yellow lemons hanging from the end of his limbs. 

I think he’ll do well. 

Jeremy D. Wells can be reached at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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