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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Oranges

*From a writing prompt, Monday night, A Cup of Words writers’ group.

Peeling an orange for me has become a sort of challenge, as I pierce the thick skin with my thumbnail and carefully tug away the outer layer, to reveal the sweet, juicy fruit beneath it.  I try to remove the skin in one, whole, unbroken piece as the pith stains my fingernails yellow, and that citrusy spray fills the air with pungent scent that reminds me of Christmas morning.  Throughout my childhood, I can’t remember a Christmas when we didn’t get a stocking stuffed with oranges and apples, mixed nuts, in the shell, and old fashioned ribbon Christmas candy.  Mom told me recently, that Mimi used to put the orange in first, way down in the toe of the sock, so that it stretched out long and she could stuff in all sorts of goodies on top of them.  That’s how I remember it, too.  I’d dump all that stuff out and reach my hand way down into the bottom, to get to that fat, heavy orange.

Today when I peel an orange, I lay out a napkin on the table, and go at it like it’s a science experiment.  I inhale the aroma of the fruit, and peel in circles around and around, careful to make the skin into a spiral.  If I’m lucky, I end up with what looks oddly similar to an orange-peel-snake, coiled on the napkin before me.  I feel like I’ve really accomplished something when I succeed.  Yes, Mama taught me to celebrate the small victories.  The love of orange smells is something I’ve carried with me, into adulthood.  My kitchen deodorizer spray is orange-scented-citrus-something-or-other.  It’s a brand I can only find at May’s Drug store.  I learned from Mom as well, to put orange peels down the garbage disposal, letting the blades chew them to bits in order to freshen up any lingering odors in the sink. 

I’ve recently developed a love for the aroma and flavor, of orange spice tea.  In fact, I found a tin at Akin’s the other day.  It’s small and round and pocket-sized, made by The Republic of Tea.  I love to sink a round, unbleached tea-bag into a mug of boiling water, and watch it turn from pale to amber in just a few moments later.  There were six bags in the tin when I bought it.  I’m down to two now, and I catch myself pulling the tin out of my pocket to pry it open and inhale the aroma of cinnamon, cloves and orange peel.

I tried the peel-in-one-piece feat with a hard-boiled egg once.  I’m still working on that skill.  But you can’t make boiled-egg tea, or spray egg scented room deodorizer in your kitchen.  I don’t think it would have the same pleasing effect.  So, maybe I’ll just stick with the orange.  It’s always been good to me.

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