Garden, Words


The leaves are green

Today on Facebook, a good friend who is caught in deep winter asked her friends for a story “about how outside their door the sun is warm, the leaves are green, and there’s fruit hanging in the trees.”

The first thing I wanted to tell her was that I recently learned a new word that I thought she would like: apricity. It means the warmth of the sun in winter. It comes from the Latin “apricus,” meaning “exposed to the sun.” And I bet more than one of you will have the same next question as I had: Does the word “apricot” come from that source, too? I thought it might, but it doesn’t. “Apricot” is more closely related to the word “precocious” — for the fruit’s reputation as an early ripener. (That’s a really truncated version of the story. The full, fascinating, nerd-appealing version can be found on the blog of Oxford University Press.)

I love that there is a word for just this thing: the warmth of the sun in winter. When I feel the sun on my face in January, I can’t help but be uplifted — eager, even — no matter what else might be going on. Spring will come again, it will!

There's fruit hanging in the trees

Today, I need that hopeful feeling. I’ve gotten quite sick — with one thing after another — and have had to cancel my much anticipated trip to Europe. We can’t reschedule, because the main purpose of the trip is Stewart’s work, so he’ll go on without me. I’ve been sad about it. I don’t want to say too much about what’s going on with my health, because it has no place on a blog that has anything to do with food. But do you know the BRAT diet? It’s bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. That’s about all I can eat right now, and I’m not sure when that will change. This is not the kind of thing you can take to Paris. But perhaps there will be another time.

I would like to say to my friend that outside my door the sun is warm, the leaves are green, and there is fruit hanging in the trees: two kinds of lemons, limequats, a passel of Rangpur limes, and a single Valencia orange. (I need to replant that tree.) The view from where I sit is a sunsplashed hillside and our wide front deck, where I can see my own little apricot tree budding up and determining to bloom very soon. I also get to watch two of my four rescued pigeons — Haiku and Gem –basking in the sun in their aviary, which adjoins my bedroom window. They love apricity as much as anyone. They sit down and stretch out their wings to absorb as much of the winter sunlight as they can.

The sun is warm -- Gem enjoying his penthouse shelf

I would also like to thank my friend. By asking for a story, she helped me to pay closer attention to these early signs of spring on a day when I could otherwise be too inclined to focus on disappointment and worry. There is so much to be grateful for.

Haiku hasn't been formally introduced here yet. She's a beauty.

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  • Reply Rosemary Rideout January 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Shae, do feel better soon. I was just wondering about you the other day as I tackled successfully limequat marmalade based on your meyer lemon marmalade recipe. Take care.

    • Reply Shae January 30, 2013 at 7:51 am

      Rosemary, you are the one who introduced me to the limequat. Now I have my own tiny little tree. It sure is productive, though I knocked away quite a bit of fruit covering and uncovering it during our recent long stretch of freezing nights. Thanks for teaching me about a new fruit!

  • Reply Julia January 22, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    I do like that word! It’s new to me. And I am glad that you are enjoying the apricity today! (Spell check is telling me that I’ve spelled this wrong, so it doesn’t even know that word.) Thank you for sharing your story with me, replete with pictures of said greenery and hanging fruit. It really does look like heaven to these winter-weary eyes. I truly wish I was there!

    Out here, I just closed the poor chickens in their icebox, and ran back inside. I RAN. It’s only thirty feet, but that’s how cold it is. It’s going to go down to single digits tonight. But even still, there is much to be grateful for, even here! And I now thank you for reminding me of that.

    • Reply Shae January 30, 2013 at 7:53 am

      Apricity is a far-away word from the OED. I think we should bring it back. (I also think I should use “replete” more often.) I can see you running!

  • Reply SamanthainSoCal January 22, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Sending you healing prayers, and a thank you for such a wonderful post. Being in So Cal I usually miss the winters of childhood.

    But boy do I love our Mediterranean climate. I have lemons, white grapefruit and a tiny navel orange that’s been trying to grow, it’s only about 4 feet tall but it is loaded with oranges. Hubby was amazed, he thought it was a weed. I chopped it down over a year ago and haven’t touched it since and it’s exploded with oranges in the lasts few weeks.

    • Reply Shae January 30, 2013 at 7:55 am

      Samantha, thank you so much for you kind comments. Our Mediterranean climate is the best. I really can’t imagine it any other way. They say we don’t have seasons, but we know what they are! Enjoy your coming spring.

  • Reply Kate @ Snowflake Kitchen January 22, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Man do I hear you, Shae. Woke up to no heat, temperatures in the -teens, and as my Subaru in mid-repair, had to drive a truck on its last legs 40 miles to work.

    Hooray apricity, indeed.

    • Reply Shae January 30, 2013 at 7:56 am

      I hope your Subaru is mended and that the apricity is reaching out to you, Kate!

  • Reply Donna January 22, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Shae, I enjoyed your post. I grew up in California and love the wonderful fruit trees out there. I’m in Tennesse now–very cold today, but the sun is shining beautifully! A joy! Sending good wishes for your recovery. Relax and take good care. Everything in its own time.

    • Reply Shae January 30, 2013 at 7:57 am

      Thank you very much, Donna. Yes, everything in its time and in its season. We can’t remember that often enough. I have been to Tennessee only once, and I remember thinking how beautiful a place it was.

  • Reply Nicole January 22, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Shae- I’m so sorry to hear about your trip and that you are not feeling well. I love this post. I’m a bit of a vocabulary nerd myself. This is perfect.
    Take Care,

    • Reply Shae January 30, 2013 at 8:06 am

      Thanks so much, Nicole. You know I hope to be coming back to you for more travel recommendations some day!

  • Reply Denise | Chez Danisse January 23, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Oh, Shae… So sorry to learn you are not feeling well. I do understand your description of feeling the winter sun, especially that first little peek on a cold morning. It is definitely uplifting. I wish you that feeling this morning. Take care, Denise

    • Reply Shae January 30, 2013 at 8:07 am

      Thank you, Denise. For a awhile, I will have to travel through your blog — your beautiful wanderings and musings. :-)

  • Reply Christina January 25, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    This is my favorite kind of post, the kind that I both learn something and feel something while reading. Thank you for teaching me apricity and leading me down the rabbit hole of apricot etymology.

    I’m sorry you’re ill. I’m happy you have rescued pigeons and sunshine and fruit trees.

    I hope you are able to find a way to make the backyard work in your preserves business. It is the right way to do it, chasing your passion like that.

    • Reply Shae January 30, 2013 at 8:08 am

      I hoped someone would go down the rabbit hole. I’m not surprised that it was you, Christina!

  • Reply Jayne February 11, 2013 at 6:04 am

    I came across limequats for the first time just the other day! I bought some & still have them, unsure of how to use them! I hope you are feeling better, Im so sorry your trip got cancelled.

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