Archive for April, 2010

(Copyright Elizabeth Parsons. Card: Marcel Schurman)

I found this card featuring a lovely painting Azaleas by Elizabeth Parsons while going through an old file. It reminds me of this simple yet insightful advice:

“Surround yourself with what you love, whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.” – George Carlin, or anonymous.

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Wonderful flavors, colors and scents...what is there not to like about citrus.

Orange County in California today is probably most known for its famous ‘product’ Disneyland. Looking back into history, the orange fruit was its most famous product and gave the county its name.

The orange, other citrus crops and avocados were crucial to the early economy of the county. Although Orange County is now mainly suburban, many non-profit associations and cities preserve and honor its agricultural heritage.

Last weekend, the city of La Habra held its first Spring Citrus Fair. Chatting with an organizer of the festival, I learnt some interesting facts about the city which I later read at this website: (http://www.orangecounty.net/cities/LaHabra_history.html ):

“This area had a near perfect climate and soil for citrus production, and La Habra fruit became well known… In 1913-14 the large Sunkist packing houses were built. At one time, La Habra Citrus Association controlled more citrus acreage that any other in the state.”

La Habra is also the birthplace of the Hass avocado, the most popular Californian avocado.

Although the fair was lacking in a display of citrus trees, there were several interesting citrus displays in the garden area. The Master Gardeners Of Orange County, a group of trained volunteers who provide assistance and information about gardening in Orange County, were there to give advice on any aspect of growing citrus.

I spoke to Robert, a very knowledgeable gentleman who gave a lot of information. I grew a small navel orange tree in my backyard about three or four years ago, and I think it’s doing rather well. It produced two fruits last year, which I must say were very good, and it looks set to produce a bigger crop this year.

According to Robert, that is about right as an orange tree takes three to four years to bear fruits. His knowledge of feeding and watering orange trees was also very useful.

Like many people, I love the citrus for its taste and lovely colors. But equally, or maybe more, I love the fresh, uplifting scent that perfumes the air when I slice through a lemon or orange.

A touch of nostalgia...to market we will go. The fair also featured rides, food and entertainment.

Another nolstalgic, vendor-style display.

Another nostalgic display... vendor-style.

A display of rare and unusual avocados by the California Rare Fruit Growers. The family that grows each fruit registers their name so that if the avocado becomes commercially successful, it will be attributed to them.

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singing mynah

The mynah can be trained to sing and speak; and ours was the darling of the neighborhood. (pic: photos8.com)

It has to be one of the best sounds in the world. I’m referring to the singing of birds.

The rearing of songbirds has traditionally been a well-loved pastime in Singapore and Malaysia. Enthusiasts spend hours training the birds to sing a tune, and pampering the adored creatures with special food and tricks to make them better crooners.

The mynah or burung tiong is particularly treasured for its singing ability. In my kampung or childhood home, we had a mynah named Gincu, the Malay word for lipstick. It was trained to sing, speak and do a little jig. Whenever it noticed a passer-by, it would say in its wonderfully clear voice “Gincu tabik tuan” which means “Gincu salutes you, sir”.

Despite his limited vocabulary, Gincu was a popular guy in the neighborhood; more popular than some of the humans who lived there!

Today, personally, I’m not comfortable with the idea of birds being caged. But I still love the chirping and singing of birds. In spring, when the day is sunny, different birds come to my backyard and the surrounding ones with their own little melodies.

To me, that’s the beauty and highlight of spring.

I found these birds and their friends in the backyard one morning.

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