Where Are All the Orange Trees?
One of the most vivid and cherished memories I have of living in Southern California in the late 1980’s, is driving to work in the early morning coolness and smelling the heavenly aroma of orange blossoms. My route took me by field after field of orange trees, and when they were in bloom, it was nothing shy of intoxicating. There must have been thousands of trees, all coming into the pollination stage at once. Oh, to be a bee in those parts when that happened!
Not too long ago, we flew out to Southern California to visit our daughter who lives only about 30 minutes from where we lived all those years ago. We took a drive up to look around and see how things had changed. The base where Charlie was stationed – Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro – is no more. Virtually all of the buildings have been demolished, and only a few abandoned ones still stand. The runway is growing up in places, and the big hangars stand empty where once there was the bustling of Marines working on fighter jets.
One pleasant surprise, we found our old base housing complex, and the building in which we lived was still standing. We squeezed through the fence and went inside for a closer look. All the walls had been kicked or knocked in, and there wasn’t much left of the little home we once knew. We took the address plate which was affixed above the doorway…a little piece of the past to take with us. It was so strange trying to get our bearings with so many buildings now gone.
And on our way back, we dropped down to the road I used to travel so frequently – the one with the orange groves. It was disappointing to find housing and businesses where all those trees used to grow. I was awash with a sudden sadness…nothing remained as it was…nothing. For some reason I thought the orange groves would still be there, and that maybe I would get to catch a whiff of those wonderful blossoms once again. But it wasn’t to be.
I wondered how they compensated for all those now absent orange trees. Did they just plant them somewhere else? I guess a citrus tree has a useful lifespan, and when that expires, they nix the tree…but I thought they replaced them.
I guess the land was worth more as housing and commercial; that would be its highest and best use, I suppose. Just business. Nothing against the orange groves, I guess. But driving by those fields in the early morning coolness…the smell of orange blossoms in the air…
I don’t know how you can put a price on that.
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