Holiday Lemonade

By Teo Spengler | December 30, 2021
Image by wmaster890
by Teo Spengler
December 30, 2021

I am not much of a drinker and haven’t been for some years. I had my share of wine, beer, and exotic mixed drinks when I was a young lawyer, but as I writer, I slowed down, then pretty much stopped. A question of not fogging up the brain.

As far as holiday cocktails or homemade wines go, I am a complete dud. But I’ll admit to making a great lemonade from my Meyer lemons and my neighbor’s honey.

Everybody Has Something

The truth is, everyone has something that they are proud of, something that makes them feel like cool and competent. I believe this applies to gardeners as well. 

Whether we are poking in our first seeds or certified master gardeners, we all have one best crop or plant, one unusual thing in the backyard that gives us a good feeling about ourselves. Mine, in San Francisco, is my Meyer lemon tree. 

Meyer Lemon Proud

At a neighborhood meeting, several gardeners in the group were discussing how sweet their Meyer lemons were that year, and that’s what put the bee in my bonnet. Sweet as oranges, yellow as an egg yolk, perfect for great lemonade, that’s how the fruit was described. But someone mentioned that young trees were going for $40 at the garden store.

I was determined, after that meeting, to get myself a Meyer lemon, though $40 was not a price I was willing to pay. Then one day I found little seedlings at the local Grocery Outlet and brought one home. The rest is history.

Lemonade to Beat Them All

I bought the tree and planted it in a large container, filling it with well-draining soil blended with homemade compost. I placed it in the sun and waited for it to grow. But winter came without seeing much progress. I brought the pot inside for the winter. 

One night I was lying in bed half asleep and dreamed I was in a meadow of flowers surrounded by the most beautiful fragrance. At some point I realized I was awake, and the beautiful fragrance was real. It didn’t take long to find it out: my Meyer lemon had its first blossom and the scent filled the house. Progress was swift after that, and three years later, I could count on 20 big lemons from the little tree every summer. 

I started making lemonade, mixing the Meyer lemon juice with strawberries from the garden and a bit of juice from a garden lime. My neighbor declared it to be the best lemonade she had ever tasted. She advised me to add some honey – then gave me a jar of honey from her own hives. While I’ve never thought of it as a holiday drink, every day I have a cup feels like a holiday to me.

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