Being that this blog is called "Eleven Lemons" it stands to reason that I hold some sort of opinion regarding lemons....
I do...I am impassioned about lemons, I hold lemons up as the jewel in the shining, golden crown of gustatory delights...the hallowed position that many people give to chocolate, I present to the Lemon.
One of the loveliest sights on the winding roads of the Amalfi Coast are the lemon trees covering the terraces, the heavily laden branches propped up to support the gleaming yellow bounty.....armfuls of lemons still sporting glossy greeen leaves for sale under the outspread arms of madonnas and saints at every hairpin turn.
I am a great watcher for signs and portents.....I believe that in the details of our lives are found clues, coming attractions of future unfoldings....if we pay attention to the breadcrumbs scattered in our path, we can find the most direct route to the bakery of our desires. Certain events and synchronistic occurences are like driftwood.....sailors can tell they are approaching land before it becomes visible on the horizon.....likewise the dove with the olivebranch...signs of land...a metaphor for the approach of our dreams come true.
In the nearly two and a half years that I have spent in Michoacan I had not seen a single lemon.Lemon flavored anything really meant "limon" which was lime or simply some vague acidic citrus something or other. Lemons were sorely missed, longed for.....yearned for. "RealLemon" juice in bottles is a sad, pallid substitute for the RealDeal.....greatly appreciated when it is all one has at hand. Lemons took on a symbolic stature. They became a metaphorfor the "RealLife" that I missed.....a symbol for all the things that meant home.
Mexico is awash in limes of all sorts, with seeds and without......limes are great. I have no problem with limes and limes are wonderful in all sorts of things but they are not lemons.
A roasted chicken becomes a superlative thing when rubbed with olive oil and stuffed with lemon halves and cloves of garlic and rosemary sprigs. Young arugula and baby lettuce sprinkled with fruity green olive oil, salt and a squeezed lemon were the stars of a simple lunch on the palazzo of a hotel on the Grand Canal in Venice with a glass of Prosecco and a chunk of bread....simple perfection.
Lemons in glasses of San Pelegrino, lemons in lemon meringue and lemon curd, lemons grated into biscotti and on foccaccia and in spiced carrots, lemon brightens spinach and brussel sprouts and is the magic in Pasta al Limone...pasta and lemon zest and fresh ricotta with perhaps slivers of fresh basil. The scent of lemon is bright and happy and clean and sitting in a bright cobalt blue bowl they are an instant still life...glowing and beautiful, regardless of the setting.
Lemons meant home, lemons meant return....lemons became a symbol of all my expectations.
Then we heard that there were lemons at the Mega Commercial Mexicana store.....in anticipation, expectation I went...walked around the produce section. There were the usual limes and mangoes, onions and avocados, pitihaya and papaya and there...in a terra cotta planter, piled up like Midas' gold were lemons, LEMONS, gleeful beacons of brightness, happy portents of ships coming in and dreams coming true. All this divined fom a small and simple fruit? Yes, most certainly! In other times and places people have divined the future in the entrails of birds and the turning up of particular runes or coins or cards....they are windows into what may come, forks in the road and probabilities. Seeing these laid out before us we can say yes and ask for more..or not. Not only is appreciation, in general, a magnet for more stuff to appreciate but to extol the small glories, to see the small bits as pieces of larger puzzles or fragments as slivers of larger pictures is to live in expectation of the miraculous which simply feels damn good.
I took the largest plastic bag on offer and filled it with about 20 lemons.....feeling as though a turning point had occurred, that the lemons were a signpost on the road home.
Happily now, they always have lemons at the store, and oddly they have showed up elsewhere at another store! Proof that this is not a fluke....always lemons now in the bright cobalt blue bowl on my kitchen table.
One step closer, a sailor at the helm of my ship viewing lemons bobbing in the water all around me...a dove with a lemonbranch flying above ......yes,I welcome the Lemons of Expectation......and all the magic to follow!