Osage oranges are one autumn’s delights for me.
I never knew about them until my first residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts a few autumns ago. There, I happened upon these glorious light neon-green orbs. They were lying by a hedge that seamed a field I was crossing on one of my walks.
What, I asked myself as I picked one up, are these wonders of nature?
Another artist at the VCCA must have asked herself that same question. She made a pencil drawing of one and added a little research article below it. Then she titled her flyer “Osage Oranges” and left a copy at each studio door step. I learned that Osage oranges grow on hardy trees that farmers used to plant as hedges because of their thorny branches. I placed my specimen on my enormous studio desk, and every day I marveled at this wondrous sphere of green grooves. And I savored its slight citrusy scent, so unlike all other smells of autumn.
Then I forgot about Osage oranges until the next fall, when I was teaching at Joliet Junior College and hiked along their woodland trail after my class. One morning green balls beckoned on the path. Oh, what a treat to happen upon them again! I even found one of the trees they were tumbling from that was quite accessible. I could pick them straight of the branches before they had a chance to rot on the ground or get busted open by hungry squirrels! On the way back, my coat pockets were bulging!
Ever since, I look for Osage oranges in the fall.
I’ve never seen them in the city, and even in the surrounding country they are not that prevalent. So I was elated when I spotted them around the corner from our car dealership in Frankfort, Illinois. After we were done with our car errands, we drove to that spot where I carefully picked out these Osage oranges that now grace our coffee table. I can smell them from where I sit on the couch and write. My kids think I’m slightly nuts to be besotted with an inedible fruit, but there you have it.
I've never seen those before, or heard of them!
William – see, I didn't either until I stumbled upon them. If you look up their history, it's pretty interesting.
I have them all over my neighborhood because it's an old suburban neighborhood with huge of old trees of an extensive variety. I never knew what they were, nor did anyone I asked. Now I'll have to go back out tomorrow and gather a few. Thanks for the lovely meditation.
Julie – you never knew you were blessed, eh? Some people consider them a nuisance though because busted up they can make quite a mess.