As a form of gentle preparation for Christmas, I hope to post a short piece daily, either prose, poetry, a picture or possibly a story. They might be deep, they might be light, funny or even shallow (at first glance)
Little oranges, easy-peelers, satsumas, clementines, mandarins.
I’ve never been able to peel oranges. Each time I try, it separates nail from nail bed and I end up with sore fingers. But the little citrus fruits that appear in the shops during late November and into December are a boon. Each perfect sphere is filled with zest and juice and I can actually get into them. The spurt of essential oils fills the room with bright, vibrant scent that up lifts and cheers; the taste, tangy and sharp but sweet and refreshing at the same time. Once so expensive they were the fruit only royalty could afford, I can buy them by the box load and eat five or six at a sitting. Once, when we had a wood-burning stove, I would dry the peel on the step of the stove and the fragrance of toasting orange peel filled the house. In a few days it was dry and brittle but still packed with volatile oils, it acted as a natural fire-lighter when I came to get the fire lit of a winter evening. We take them for granted now, but to find one at the end of a Christmas stocking was a joy to many in the past. There’s usually a huge bowl of them in my living room over the festive season, complete with their deep green leaves, the sheen disappearing as they dry out. An orange is used to symbolise the world in the lovely Christingle services: a red satin ribbon around the middle, a candle in the top and the fruit itself studded with small sweets, raisins and sometimes monkey nuts.