Every year at this time I am overwhelmed with desire for animal babies. I miss the goat kids that used to make the place come alive with their hopping and jumping and general delight at having landed on this amazing planet. I long for a little donkey, one with big eyes and long soft ears and tiny hooves that I could take on walks and perhaps, when it was grown, even ride side-saddle like the little old black-clad women I used to see on the roads near my grandparents' farm in Catalonia.
Failing a donkey, I would love a couple of geese. I am perilously close to getting a couple of goslings, the kind that would grow low-slung, bulldog-like bodies with gray backs, white bellies and bright orange beaks. To me, a goose waddling and honking in the yard is the very essence of country living. What holds me back? The lack of a pond and of adequate fencing, and the mountains of poop that a pair of geese would produce.
Short of a goose, I could get more hens. I was at the feed store picking up grain last week and there they were, the year's shipment of day-old chicks, cheeping and running around under the heat lamps. What kept me from scooping up a half dozen and taking them home? Only my near fanatical belief that a peaceful, healthy flock is a small flock, and that I owe it to my hens to keep their numbers low.
So I've become resigned to the thought of no new babies at the place this year. But that's not quite right. There is new life here after all.
As if to reward me for my restraint the potted lemon tree has just presented me with eight little lemons. This is the tree that, as you may recall, I had so much trouble shaping and acclimating ( http://mygreenvermont.blogspot.com/2013/02/shape.html). I was surprised and grateful when it suddenly covered itself in blooms, then dismayed when most of them dropped off. But I became a dedicated pollinator (I was going to write "husband") to the remaining few.
Every morning after breakfast I would pick up an old watercolor brush and tickle the innards of each flower, hoping that I was doing it right. The petals eventually dried and fell off, and I kept peering at the base of the pistils, looking for the slightest swelling that would tell me that I had succeeded as a bee.
After days of looking in vain, I decided to enjoy my lemon tree for its foliage and abandon all thoughts of a crop. Then suddenly yesterday there they were: deep green and less than a quarter-inch long, but definitely lemons, my own little lemons in whose procreation I had played an active part.
I feel such a fatherly kind of pride in every one of them, that I'm not sure I'll ever bring myself to make them into lemonade.