My Darling Clementine


When it gets right down to it, I like every time of the year for one reason or another.  I like certain seasons over others because of the weather.  I hate the Texas summer heat, but I like it because I don’t have to play taxi getting my girls back and forth to school.  I like the winter because I have fewer outdoor projects and can read more.  And, the winter seems to be the time for one of my favorite fruits, clementines.

(I am now retracing my personal memories of clementines.  I am really not interested if it is the actual truth.  It is my truth, and it is good enough for me.)

Growing up, I don’t remember clementines.  The only time citrus seemed to enter our house was when we bought fruit from the FFA(Future Farmers of America).  [We did have an older couple who also sent us a box from Florida nearly every summer.]  In my youth, I don’t remember eating many oranges. (We did almost always take vitamins)  I know my parents had grapefruit cut in sections for breakfast, so I believe the box was heavier on grapefruit then on anything else.  Other than that, my memory of clementines, the little gems of vitamin C, only begins 15 or so years ago.

When the relationship first started, I believe their appearances were twice a year – once before Christmas and then another time about 6 months later.  (Not sure if this is accurate, but it is what I am thinking was “real”.)  When they first arrived in the produce section those years ago, they seemed to only be available for a few weeks.  (The beginning of the relationship started in Ohio, so maybe my perception is tainted by being a Midwesterner.)  I purchased them by the bag, and I sucked them up!  I was often found with clementine peel under my left thumb nail–it was my primary tool in getting the peeling process going.  In most, but not all cases, the peel comes off in one piece.  Rarely can I eat just one, and often three of more are slain before my snack is completed.

This season, I am pretty sure the season is being stretched out.  I realize the fruit only ripens at a certain time.  I am fully aware the later clementines are being preserved to allow my purchases to continue.  While most of the bags of later clementines (writing this in mid-April would make the present season nearly 5 months or longer) are mostly as enjoyable as the early season gems, the later bags seem to have a few clementines that are short on juice and heavy on pulp.  Sometimes, even the good clementines have more seeds than I prefer.  I tolerate these exceptions–it is the power of the sweet juice that feeds my addiction.

I am not sure if all of the grocers buy their clementines from the same place.  I would also be surprised if Halo’s, Cuties, and Darlings come from widely different sources/groves.  (Oranges come from groves, so clementines must as well….?  City dwellers may be surprised things are grown and delivered to stores.  Stores actually rely on supplies to get their produce.  Cereal, on the other hand, comes to the store as a “sludge”.  It is put into a machine in the back of the store.  The machine has lots of buttons that allow the sludge to be turned into what every cereal corresponds to the button pushed..  This applies to both name brand AND generic brands.  Do not let people tell you otherwise.)  Somewhere in this supply chain, some “ugly” gems of below-expectations juiciness sneak through.  When the ratio of ugly to good becomes to heavily skewed, I will have to “wait” for the new season to begin….or I will just need a “fix” really badly!!



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