Confessions Of A Petty Citrus Thief

Perhaps the best perk of living in California, better than proximity to robber barons or weed, is the ubiquitous presence of fruit trees. Anecdotally speaking, everyone has a dang lemon, orange, plum, or avocado tree. Even when our fair state was in the worst throes of the mega drought, one could grow healthy batches of fruit with the right gardening regimen, depending on the part of the state you populated.

When I grew up on the Sacramento River, our lemon tree would produce so many damn lemons that we would cook with them, make lemonade, give bushels away, and stock our freezer until there was no space left, no people left to pawn off our leftovers on, and all that was left to do was go smash the rotten ones into the river with baseball bats. This surplus isn’t universal, but if you have a well-producing tree, it’s not likely that you will use every fruit it produces.

Naturally, this supposed excess can lead to a, let’s call it, cavalier attitude when it comes to other people’s trees. I think my situational pilfering started in middle school, when I’d get hungry walking home from school and I’d swipe an overhanging orange from a neighbor’s tree. In high school, a similar situation played out. If your plum tree has overhanging branches that dip onto a high school campus, can’t you reasonably expect hungry teens to harvest them?

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