Found at: Bokkusu
The first time I saw an orange growing on a tree, I was totally stunned. Being a Northerner, born and bred, I knew that oranges grew on trees in the same way that I knew that alligators roamed the swamp: I believed it because other people had told me but I had no real proof that it was true. I imagined tropical jungles full of lemons and oranges and grapefruits and mangos and watermelons and kiwis – all the colorful, exotic fruits that I’d seen in the grocery store, but which couldn’t grow in the limited Washington sunshine. Yet, I also assumed that I would never see such places. They seemed so distant and so unattainable. It was easy for me, as a child, to imagine dragons or fairies or unicorns, but a citrus fruit tree was just too implausible to be really real. I’d never even seen a picture!
Living in Japan, I never got over oranges growing on trees. Walking to work, I’d see the lush green leaves of a mikan tree leaning over my neighbor’s garden wall and delight in the way it grew and flowered and fruited just like any other plant. I watched the little mikans turn green and then orange, and then fall to the pavement, splattering fermented fruit juice all over the asphalt. Every day, I checked their progress, and every day I was amazed. Coworkers would bring in bags of home-grown citrus and I would eat them until my mouth was raw because I’d never had truly fresh citrus before. Driving through the countryside, the road would peer over endless groves of green and orange that snaked through the humid hills of central Japan. Even as an adult, it felt like I was living in a fantasy world.
Now, back up North, the taste of this mochi reminds me of that sense of wonder. It reminds me of the rich, sweet, soft, pungent taste of mikan. It reminds me of all the magic in the world and all the things I have yet to discover. Maybe one day, I’ll even see a mango tree!