Firsts are always to be celebrated. Why is this so? The first time tasting an orange. Do you remember when this was for you? I do. It was in Genoa in 1956, at a dock market. My anyu bought an orange which smelled of an improbable perfume. The skin was pebbly with pores, and smelled… unlike any other smell before encountered. Once opened, it tasted acid and sweet – a lovely taste to accompany a delicious scent. Fingers were sticky and tasty for a long time afterward. The scent lingered and I still remember it every time I open an orange.
This morning I selected an orange from my fruit bowl and looked it over carefully. It is a beautiful fruit, in season, perfect in its orangeness, its colour brightening an otherwise dreary winter morning. I scored it four times with my black paring knife, one which I obtained at little cost from a local hardware store, and which does daily yeoman service. I opened the skin in sections with my squared fingernails. The oil in the skin as it stretched spritzed onto my hands and made them both sticky and oily, releasing that smell of citrus which brings back old memories. After all, it was precisely on this day, fifty-seven years ago in Genoa I had experienced my first orange. How odd, how strange and fortuitous that the last occurrence mirrored the first. I sat on my couch and savoured each segment of today’s orange. Time collapsed, it ceased to have linear quality, as so often erroneously I consider it. This is very comforting.