We were having an unusually warm spring. The highs were already in the high 80s and low 90s and frost seemed like a thing of the past. It was time to take the winter boxes off of the fruit trees. They had been nursed along in there, hidden away from the sun in an attempt to keep them from frosting until warmer weather arrived, but now they needed the sun if they were to be salvaged. Without thinking i grabbed hold of one of the boxes and leaned it to its side with the intent of freeing the tree housed beneath it. An angry wasp emerged and flew about my head. I set the box carefully back down and took a few brisk steps towards the shed. The wasp returned to its nest. Upon further inspection there was a wasp nest hanging from the interior ceiling of each box. This, i decided, had to be remedied before i could get back to removing the boxes from the trees. I knew i had a can of spray under the sink in the kitchen. I retreated to the house to weaponize. My brain told me it would be best to wait for sun down when the wasps would not be moving and spray them in their sleep to avoid being stung. My brain also detailed a mile-long list of chores that needed to be done and “remove boxes” was one of those that was listed to be done today. The can read, “kills on contact”. I slipped my keys in my apron pocket in case i needed to run and said, “I hope you’re right.” I shook the can, held it up to the first nest, sprayed, and ran.
The wasp was hit directly with the foamy poison and it wriggled and writhed on its back in the grass. Eventually it stopped twitching. I kicked it with my boot. It was dead. I turned to the next one. I sprayed each wasp’s nest in each box and then set the can down next to the tool shed.
With the wasps dead and the nests knocked free i could tip the boxes on their sides, at which point a little fruit tree sprang forth from each one and i redid the fencing around it to keep the deer out. I then corner-walked each box over to the cedars in front of the fence line and stood them there, to be used next winter if the termites didn’t get them first.
The lemon tree flowered WAY early this year, probably due to the unusually warm weather. It flowered when i hadn’t taken the frost box off yet and the bees completely missed the blossoms. I didn’t get a single lemon.
There was my beautiful brown turkey fig tree. I hoped it would grow as big as the one i remembered from my childhood, eventually dwarfing our old house.
Finally, the little 11 dollar twig i had planted the year before; the pomegranate tree. I was ecstatic to see it had grown taller and sprouted more leaves. All winter it had lost all but three little leaves, the last sign of life that clung to the tops of the twigs. Now it appeared healthy and thriving. All 3 of the fruit trees had survived the winter. The question was, what fruit trees would be joining them on the property this year? What gems would the nursery offer, how much money would i have to spare, and how many holes would i find time to dig through the limestone in between working and running the operations i already had going on the property? Only time would tell.