Sunday, October 5, 2008

When Life Gives You Lemons

Apple-picking is a tradition I look forward to every fall--I love the clean air in the orchards, stressing as my friends tease me for getting lost, and of course, eating crisp apples right off the trees (while thinking about how my mom would freak out if she knew about my habit of consuming unwashed fruit). I'd say it's part of American tradition, at least in temperate parts of the country. A year ago, some friends and I went apple picking for my friend Ben's 21st birthday. His 22nd birthday just passed yesterday (thanks for the reminder, facebook!) and the memory made me a little homesick.


It's now October, but the fact has barely registered in my brain. At the current time of 10:34 pm, it's 84 degrees Fahrenheit in Kaohsiung. It was way hotter than that during the day.

Thanks to its reliably hot climate, Taiwan produces some of the best fruit in the world. A trip to the fruit market is like staring at a nutritious candy shelf. The mangos, the guavas, the pineapples, the plums (oh! I could go on and on!) are all so vibrantly hued it seems unnatural to the American eye. Yet, there is a serious paucity of good apples in this place. A truly delicious apple requires a significant drop in temperature in order to come into being. Taiwanese apples are neither tart nor crisp, just sweet. I blame the weather.

Today, one of the LETs took a group of us to the Meinong Hakka village (aka a series of gift shops in the county neighboring Kaohsiung). After lunch, we had the option of going to the Hakka Cultural Museum or going lemon picking on her farm. I pushed for lemon-picking, thinking it would ease the homesickness. Now that was wishful thinking. Plucking tree-ripened apples in the crisp Fall air is nothing like trying to rip a lemon off a branch and wishing to god I had brought an umbrella for some shade. And let's not get started on trying to eat a lemon right off the tree.


Alas, I think I complain too much. If I weren't a little homesick, this would have been fun. At the very least, there is a pile of lemons on my kitchen table just waiting to be squished into lemonade.

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