Grateful Orange

It’s easy to take things for granted when they’re plentiful and so it goes with oranges. Since living in California, I can hardly remember a time when they weren’t around. We have an orange tree in our garden that came with the house. It’s probably been there 25 years.

When my boys were young they loved making orange juice, though individually the fruit isn’t always sweet. I love the smell of oranges lined up on the kitchen counter, sliced and waiting for the juicer.

Our plentiful oranges keep the neighborhood rats from getting scurvy as well. The tree offers shade in the summer and currently shelters a large nest for opossums or squirrels. It’s a well-rounded tree.

Orange Tree, Nest and Tree Rat

Orange Tree, Nest and Tree Rat

California is now in day five of an unusual cold snap, with temps dropping into the twenties and low thirties.  That’s about ten degrees below normal for this time of year, threatening citrus growers up and down this large state. Prolonged temperatures in the mid-twenties or below cause damage to citrus crops.

According to Newser:

State wide, large growers deployed wind machines to keep the warm air closer to the ground and irrigation to raise the temperature in the groves. Rows farthest away from the protection could be damaged, Story said. And farmers who do not have wind machines could lose crops.

Our tree is far too big to drape in frost cloth. There are no industrial strength fans to force down warm air. The health of the tree is in the hands of nature. The orange tree grows at the corner of the fence.  Neighboring pines tower nearby. That shelter may see it through. I hope so.

I hope, too, that our weather returns to a seasonal normal.  Then citrus growers up and down the state will prevail. It’s a great reminder to appreciate all we have.  I’m grateful for the orange.

Orange Tree with Pine Bough

Orange Tree with Pine Bough

18 thoughts on “Grateful Orange

    • Thanks, Will. We’re finally turning a corner and expect low 40s the rest of this week.

      My cat Lindy is a gentle hunter. She used to catch the rats, unharmed, then bring them indoors for us to find. It is hair-raising finding a rat indoors. I’m a slow learner. After at least four catch-and-release adventures taking about an hour each time, we wised up. We close the cat flap at dusk and no more rats indoors.

      I’ll never forget tidying up a room one day many years ago and reaching for what looked like a piece of thread that missed the trash can. I reached behind and picked it up, only then to realize it was the tail of a mouse. My now-deceased cat Fluffy was not such a gentle hunter.


      • Holy Crackers, I would have screamed so loud the neighbours would call the cops. My friend Karen used to get the odd mouse in the house. Once she came over, let herself in, got our cat, carried it over to her house and basically said ‘get it’…well Ginger wasn’t interested in it at all. When I got home from work, I came to her rescue and put the poor thing outside..mind you this was a teeny tiny baby mouse, not a rat carrying a basket of oranges…LOL.


        • LOL LOL LOL “a rat carrying a basket of oranges.” Your are so funny.

          What a great story, too, of your friend borrowing your cat. She was resourceful.

          The rats are big, yet can compress themselves down into the size of a quarter dollar. We never actually trapped it so much as encouraged it in the direction of the door. I’m surprised the poor thing didn’t have a cardiac incident with two huge people trying to corner it. I’ve never been so relieved as I was that day when it finally raced out the front door.


  1. The weather is really being crazy everywhere. Is this the new ‘normal’? I read that article, hopefully it will come back to seasonal. Grocery is bound to take hit, but I don’t begrudge the growers. It’s just a risky business with such unpredictable weather. That tree rat is sends shivers up my spine…does it have a white beard? Yikes…we’ll hopefully they don’t eat all your lovely oranges. That’d be so cool to look out the window and see that, like little balls of sunshine in the yard. Even LA was cold…WOW. Good thing Mike got the copper pipe insulated.


    • I’m so grateful to Mike. You couldn’t pay me to crawl around that dusty crawl space. Funny thing, too. While he was down their, three of the cats went down too for a visit. Everyone but Slinky!

      The life of farmers and growers is harsh. I’m happy to report that the rest of this week will warm up by ten degrees.

      As for the tree rat, they are prevalent in our area. I was surprised, however, to see one in broad daylight. As for the “beard,” I’ve studied that photo over and over again and can not for the life of me figure out what that is. I wondered if it was orange rind, an affect of the sun or (ick) a growth. I’ll never know, and trust me I kept my distance taking this shot.


      • Hooray for the warmup! The weather was the talk on Jay Leno, Ellen and Conan yesterday..we PVR and just watch parts of each….so it must have been very unusual. Those curious kitties would probably be under your house all the time if they could. Our previous cat Paco used to hang under Roy & Karens deck to hunt mice and then leave them at the door, eck. Do your cats ever try to catch a rat, OMG that would be a eck to infinity.


        • Those kitties are resourceful, to be sure.

          Oh yes, lots of rats have made it into our house…alive and well thanks to Lindy’s gentle ways. It took close to an hour each time to evict one. They run back and forth, back and forth. They’re terrified. Your terrified. The cats panting in the other room demanding to be let out. Kids have feet up on the couch. I left a full explanation in comment to Will, above…or below. Crazy, crazy.


  2. Can’t have our rats getting scurvy, now, can we, mate? I seem to recall reading that one technique for preventing frost from damaging citrus trees is to mist the trees with water when a frost is expected. Apparently the thin layer of frozen mist serves as insulation—sounds counterintuitive, I know, so further research is needed.


    • Indeed! It would reflect poorly on the gardener.

      I’ve not heard of the mist, but definitely watering at the roots is beneficial. Interesting idea, though, and certainly more doable for the average homeowner.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your idea, Bunny. I’ll have to explore that a bit more.


  3. Hello Dear Alys!!! I’m sorry that I haven’t been over to your lovely blog for a while but I’ve been SO busy! I’m envious of your orange tree – especially as we can’t grow them over here. I have a dwarf calamondin tree in the garden room and want to try a lemon tree next.
    I hope your fruit is okay!


    • Dear PJ, you must never apologize for living your life, and please don’t feel you have to catch up either. I do love hearing from you, though, and appreciate your comments always.

      The orange tree seems to have weathered the frost well. The dwarf lemon (which is still covered) does have some damage, but since the tree is young, and still not producing, I’m sure it will be fine. The ferns took a hit though so we’ll see how they fare.

      Now I’m going to look up calamondin. I don’t know that tree, but it sure sounds exotic.


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