Monday, February 6, 2012

I'm a Little Bit Country

In my backyard, I have a bumper crop of these:

Since I haven’t been able to figure out when these oranges would be ready for harvest, I just did a taste test to figure out if mine were ready.  Um, definitely not ready.  Fortunately, my pucker isn’t permanent.

My dad had both a lemon tree and an orange tree in our backyard in Anaheim, California and he always seemed to know the exact time when the oranges were ripe.  Dad worked in the orange groves during the 1920’s and 30’s, so he knew his oranges.  He said the entire family worked the groves to pick the harvest; it was during the Depression – you did whatever work you could find.  Dad could remember falling asleep in his high school English class because he had been up all night keeping the smudge pots lit in the grove, so that the crop didn’t freeze.  Oranges were king in the OC during that time; a ruined crop meant financial disaster.

Here in Tulare County, when I say that I’ve just moved here from Orange County, I usually get a rather amusing reaction.  People always tell me, quite dramatically, that I’ve made a BIG change, as if I had just said that I’d moved here from a rain forest in the Amazon.  Quite frankly, I think they’ve been watching a few too many episodes of “The Real Housewives of Orange County”.   They’re surprised when I say that I don’t even know people like that, and quite frankly, wouldn’t want to.

I don’t think people realize that the Orange County depicted in that show isn’t the same Orange County that my dad grew up in. OC in the 20’s and 30’s was rural, undeveloped, rather charming.  You can see vestiges of this in Old Towne Orange, in parts of Fullerton, and in the Floral Park section of Santa Ana.  This is the Orange County that my dad grew up in, which is why he was a country boy who was happiest hunting or fishing or harvesting a bumper crop of fruits and vegetables from his plot of land. 

After World War II, Orange County grew by leaps and bounds.  Orange groves were replaced by housing tracts and strip malls.  Stately Victorians and California bungalows were torn down to make way for businesses and apartments.  The Orange County of my dad’s high school years was more or less gone.  And although he never said so, I imagine that Dad was saddened by so many of the changes.

Even though I am very much accustomed to being a city girl, I was raised with the values of that country boy.  So I am so excited that I will be planting my garden next month.  Although I had small flower gardens when I was a little girl, I’ve never done anything on a grand scale like this.  So, I have my seeds ready.  I’ve picked out the roses and other assorted plants that I want from the nursery.  I have pots ready.  Shovel , rake and trowel are waiting.  Gardening gloves (in pink, of course) are ready.  I can’t wait!

This backyard will be getting some big changes:

I can’t wait to taste a salad made with ingredients that I’ve grown myself.  I can’t wait to replace my silk flowers with bouquets from my garden.  I can’t wait to have freshly squeezed orange juice with my breakfast. 

I’d like to think that Dad would be pleased.

What are your garden plans this year?


  1. I would love to have a garden.I have to stick to potted gardens.We have ground squirrels around here.I think they would everything I would plant.BTW I live in Orange County in the 1970s'.We lived there from 1976-1980.We moved back to the midwest in 1980.I know what you mean about people thinking all of orange county is like that.I know I have not been in that area for a long time.But I am sure it is like any suburb.There are the well to do and the rest of us.I never knew any of the well to do.

  2. Hi Julie,
    This is such a beautiful post and yes, your dad would indeed be pleased. How exciting to be growing your own veggies. There is nothing like homegrown!

    We lived in Anaheim when I was a wee one and I can still smell the orange groves.

    Hope you're having a wonderful week! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.



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