There are tell-tale signs of the transitioning seasons perfectly orchestrated by Mother Earth everywhere around me. Squirrels are in a frenzy, harvesting all the nuts from under the baron pecan trees that drape our rural Georgia property. The leaves from the now sleepy tree limbs that no longer provide protection from the hot searing rays of summer have been collected off the dying grass and piled with precision into the garden where they will eventually be tilled into the soil that will grow delicious spring and summer vegetables.
The air is cool. Not as cool as it is in the rest of the country. While we have had our first frost, we still have days that call for short sleeves or light jackets.
It was almost 70 degrees on the day we put up our Christmas tree and hung garland on our fences. Yes, the weather in Georgia is one of the beauties of living in the south.
And then there is THIS.
The little lemon tree that produced one sole piece of fruit last year, that we thought was dead, that although we knew wasn’t being planted in the optimal climatic environment, was planted among peach and pear and apple trees in the orchard behind our house.
This little lemon tree, despite the cooling temperatures, despite the frost, and despite the fact that the entire landscape around our home is void of color and looks dead, drab and dull like winter in full bloom, despite the fact that it is December and just a few days from winter solstice - has remained vigilant, and vibrant green and neon yellow.
During the day, this little lemon tree shines brighter than all the holiday lights hanging on the fancy lights in town.
Beneath the tree, the crispy straw like grass has been littered with what looks like buckets of passionate lemons and the branches are still clinging to the softball sized lemons that are not quite ripe, or ready to fall off the tree.
It’s December. I have been told time and time again that lemon trees don’t grow in this part of northern Georgia. This little lemon tree should be dead, and at the very least paying attention to the cries of Mother Earth, or Mother Nature – who say it is time to sleep. But this little lemon tree is not ready to die or quit.
This little lemon tree is a mother. A father. A parent.
It has work to do that cannot be hindered by bleakness. And apparently, it is determined to shine despite the dozens of huge fruit trees, now completely empty and raw, that over shadow it in the orchard.
Every day, I expect to see signs of winter death. And every day, I see more lemons on the ground, and the determined refusal to wither.
A beacon of light in a world that sometimes can feel so dark.
A remarkable, beautiful and natural testament to faith and possibility, growth and life, love and endless devotion! A statement about life, persistence, and promise. A defiance of the odds. A glimmer of hope during a season of bleakness. And most of all, a vision of promise.
I don’t know about you, but if this little lemon tree – so small and frail, can do the impossible – then I believe that we can too.
Maybe it is naïve of me to find peace and comfort in something as simple as the little lemon tree in the backyard that refuses to give up. But this works for me, and serves as a very powerful reminder of the work that we, as parents – have yet to do in this world. With our kids and with the children of the world.
Now, I just want to be the lemon tree!