As far back as I can remember there has always been a lemon tree
When I was a kid I learned from our Italian neighbors that lemons like urine, so it was regular practice for the boys both sides of the fence to wee on the tree. It was a matter of pride that our trees were well watered. The lemon tree was a valued contributor to suburban community life. (Yes there actually was such a thing as a 'suburban community' back then, street cricket, cubbies in the trees, billy carts down the hill etc... etc...)
Where I come from the unspoken rule has always been, nobody pays for lemons. In fact it would be a poor person indeed who would have to resort to actually purchasing lemons from the shop. After all who wouldn't know at least one person who has a tree with a few fruits to share?
In some places they use the phrase "Big name no blanket" to indicate that someone has put too much significance on their own self importance but neglected the social and personal responsibility of caring for theirs and others basic needs. Well here you could easily apply same logic, "Big name no lemons".
I recall as a child accidentally bumping into our tree and apologizing as if it were a person. It seemed a perfectly normal thing to do. Many years later a Malaysian colleague told me about the communal mango trees in her village. She was taught by her father never to disturb the tree at night, don't pick fruit or cut the wood, don't even shake the foliage at night, respect the tree.
Many changes have occurred in our family home after I left about 24 years ago. The old lemon tree had to be removed but Mum and Dad planted more in another spot along the side fence.
Every time I visit my family in Melbourne I am amazed at the productivity of Mum and Dad's lemon trees. They have a few varieties, I don't know what they are, they're lemons, there's lots of them... one is called Lemonade.
|Slim garden bed produces tons of fruit|
|Mum with another bag of fruit to give away|
My parents have been living in the same house in Melbourn's northern suburbs for 51 years. When they moved in the street was mostly dirt and surrounded with paddocks (where we used to collect black berries and mushrooms... another story). As the neighborhood became more populated people would share back yard vegetables, it was normal to have someone knock on the door with a bag full of silver beet, rhubarb, tomatoes or plums. Nobody ever paid for lemons.
Time has rolled on and the neighborhood has changed, new families have moved in others have shifted or passed away. Most keep to themselves but everyone knows my Mum. So it was no surprise to me when we had an appointment at the bank, that she would bring a bag of lemons for her account manager.
|Field mushrooms straight out of the front yard|
To what end does she keep holding to these antiquated ways? Talking to strangers, pottering in the garden, giving stuff away... Well about 6 and a half years ago mum was diagnosed with a very aggressive bowel cancer. It was life threatening and required immediate surgery. After the surgery she was not given a very good prognosis. The surgery took away a large section of her bowel and she suffered a lot. During the weeks and months of her early treatment (Chemo) she received messages and prayers from all over the place. People would bring soups and hot meals for her and my dad (mum lost her apatite for a very long time). There seemed to be no end to the generosity of friends and neighbors. Mum hated being laid up and she endured a couple of years of being physically knocked out by chemo and the impact of the cancer on her body. But now 6 years later I come to visit and find her pottering in the garden, stooping to pick up fallen lemons and picking mushrooms from the front yard! She has exceeded all expectations.
I don't know what gives people the spirit to keep on going but with mum it must be connected to this drive she has to stoop to pick up the fruit from the ground and the impulse that demands that she should share the abundance she has been blessed with. Because nobody should ever pay for lemons!
|Mushrooms and radish|