The Wages of Sin

Several weeks ago,  I stopped at the Islamic Center.  I had been watching a row of orange trees along the perimeter of the property adjacent to a parking lot.  They were heavy with fruit.  I could hardly believe that nobody was picking them.  Perhaps I was mistaken in my impression that they were ripe.

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I parked my car and looked around for somebody who might give me permission to photograph and to sample the oranges.  Nobody was around the mosque although there were several cars in the parking lot.  I figured I’d done due diligence in my effort to obtain permission and proceeded toward my objective.  Stealing oranges from a house of worship.

DSC_0280The oranges didn’t look spectacular, but they were orange and the sky was a lovely benign blue, and I figured that homegrown oranges probably don’t have flawless skins like store-bought oranges.  I even found the patterns on the skins to be interesting.  I was amazed that orange trees, laden with fruit, flourished unmolested by man or beast.  How had folks from the adjacent business parking lot resisted them?  Where were the birds?

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As I turned around to walk back to my car, I saw a perfect orange lying at my feet.  It had fallen off the tree almost as if it were a gift to me.  I picked it up and walked back to the center where I sat down on a concrete support underneath a palm and looked back at the dome against the sky.  I was having a fine, warm day in the sun.

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I began to peel the orange.  It looked fine inside.  Then, I took a big bite.  Oh, dear.  I cannot describe the bitterness of that fruit.  It was awful.  I began spitting and choking and desperately wishing I had a drink of water.  Immediately, I grabbed my camera and hurried toward my car.  On the way, I saw two men emptying garbage cans into a dumpster at the corner of the parking lot.  I’m certain they saw me tasting the bitter fruit.  I’m also fairly certain they laughed.  The next week, every one of the oranges was gone from the trees.  Not one remained on the grounds.  “The Wages Of Sin” flitted through my head.  And I chuckled.

NOTE:  The alem is a finial or a sign that is essential in the construction of a mosque The history of this construction of this architectural element is interesting.  Thanks to Nia and Ottoman Dandy for their help here.  billgncs tells me the name of the orange tree is “Seville” which is confirmed by Wiki.  Thank you too.

               There really is a “sour orange“, George.  🙂

85 Comments on “The Wages of Sin

  1. Gorgeous story – and fantastic shots George – I guess everyone’s told you Seville oranges make the best marmalade – my mother and father used to go to extraordinary lengths to source them when the moved up to the sub-tropics. I’m sorry I’ve missed your recent posts – for some reason they’ve not been coming up in my reader.

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    • Hi, Steve. I haven’t seen your photographs in forever. I have to take a day trip up to your place, I reckon. 🙂 Thanks for stopping in. Your photos are my benchmark for flower photos. I thought about you when I was photographing the Walking Lily for a post on She Kept A Parrot! 🙂

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      • I don’t know that you need to come this far (though there are plenty of floral delights here, and a trip is certainly worthwhile). A few days ago I was east of Lockhart and found wonderful colonies of flowers along FM 20. That’s already a quarter of the way to Victoria, so I suspect you can find plenty of blooms near you, too, especially as the cool spring has delayed the peak of the flower season for some species.

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        • Haha. I was planning a virtual trip, Steve. I risked life and limb to snap a pix of some wildflowers on the side of the highway only to realize that a neighbor had a dense crop of the very same pick flowers all over her lawn! And only four houses down from my driveway! 🙂 I got virtually identical photos … one on the highway and one in her yard.

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          • That’s funny: when I read your first comment I took it figuratively, but then my mind got literal. Both interpretations make sense. As for sides of highways, you can imagine that I spend a fair amount of time in those places, and I hope that won’t someday bring about my demise.

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    • Hi, Marianne! The oranges were gone when I passed by a couple of weeks later. I’m sure they harvested them for marmalade or for one of the myriad of other uses for the sour oranges. I am going to ask when I see somebody at the mosque! Thanks for the visit. I see your pretty gravatar everywhere so I recognize you! 🙂

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    • Thanks for coming to visit, Naomi. I try to restrain myself, but I have my weak moments occasionally and post about my baby anyway! It pleases me that you enjoy them. 🙂

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  2. I daresay you weren’t the first one to taste sour oranges from that tree!! Reckon that’s why those men laughed. Great pics and story George 🙂

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    • Thank you, Luciana. I bet I wasn’t either. However, most normal folks probably thought the rough skins were a bad sign to begin with. Now that I’ve read about sour oranges (Seville), I know that they are ancient trees and are used in a huge variety of different things … like perfume! 🙂 Thanks for the visit!

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  3. Interestingly enough, a couple weeks ago I had a similar experience with the oranges in DR. I bought a huge bag off a horsedrawn street cart. They were aweful!!! I later learned that they were used for … get this … washing meat!

    I wondered … really why do you wash meat? Must be a tenderizer, they were sure acidic enough.

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    • After I read your comment about washing meat with bitter oranges, I Googled it. I couldn’t find a specific reference to using it to wash meat, but it is used as a marinade for meat. There are many uses of the stuff, but eating isn’t one of them as you and I know! 🙂 I’d bet the acidic juice does a tenderizing number on the meat and makes it taste better too. Thanks for the visit and the info! 🙂 How long are you in the DR for? Forever? Nah, nothing is forever, is ti?

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    • Hahaha! You are just too clever, Daisyfae. Who else would refer to glitter as the herpes of the craft world… You and White Lady keep me entertained. That is, when you decide to post. It’s been awhile, you know. Drop something on us soon.

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    • Thank you so much, Joshi. I am pleased that you like the photos. You know how much I admire your work. It makes me feel really good that you took the time to read my little story and comment here. I doubt that you realize just how much I appreciate it coming from you. 🙂

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  4. Had I been eating an orange, bitter or sweet, I would have choked on it reading this hilarious post.

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    • WELL. How did I skip you, Naomi? Good grief! Yes, I am doing fine … shaky and slow … but I really am fine. You, the storyteller extraordinaire, saying that is a real compliment. Thank you, Naomi! 🙂

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  5. Oh George, you tried to do the right thing and you still got burnt, where’s the karma in that? Never mind, it seems all of us who read and admire your photos have learnt a thing or two about domes and bitter oranges.

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  6. I wouldn’t consider it a sin… but having been around oranges all my life, I wouldn’t have taken a bit of an orange that looked like that…

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    • The reference to sin was tongue-in-cheek. Some of the oranges were not blighted. At any rate, the meat looked perfectly edible. The taste was intolerable. 🙂 They are Seville oranges. They’re supposed to be bitter … as I learned after I posted.

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  7. Clear and beautiful shots, George. I had a good laugh just imagining the look on you face as you took the bitter bite. The wages of sin indeed are bitter. 😉

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    • Oh dear, Celestine! I misplaced my reply, I suppose, since it isn’t here! You are always so enthusiastic about my photos. I appreciate that. Yes, I had no idea just how bitter the wages of stealing from a house of worship could be! 😉 I hope you are feeling better. The weakness and dizziness from the medication may indicate that you don’t need quite as much of it. Take your own BP twice a day. That’s the only way you will ever know how effective the meds are or are not. I know how busy you have been so I do appreciate your taking the time to visit me. Thank you.

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  8. There are lots of oranges on the street trees in nearby Viareggio and I have often wondered why they are left there. Thank you for offering an explanation.

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  9. Ha ha ha! I smiled all the way through this. I just knew upon sight of those fruit-laden branches against that lovely blue sky that your story would lead to a bitter ending. Such wonderful photographs here, George! All beautifully composed and balanced. Very nice work!

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  10. Enjoyed your little adventure 🙂
    Shame about the fruit. We always had mandarin trees in our back yard growing up – and a mulberry tree, which my mum despised (as many of our clothes were stained to ruin).

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  11. HaHa! Loved this story, George! (I can SOOO imagine you doing this!)

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    • I bet you do laugh when you see tourists taking oranges from the trees! I read that these ancient trees are all over the world basically. Lots are planted along city streets for some reason. They are attractive trees, and the fruit has so many uses too. Perfume from them! Goodness! Thank you very much for your visit and for taking the time to tell me about the trees in Rome. I must visit your blog home in Rome soon. 🙂

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  12. I arrive too late to tell you that they are Seville oranges and used for the traditional bitter English (Scottish?) marmalade. They have a very short season in the shops in the UK, but you can buy up extra and freeze them whole then do your jam-making when the weather is better and the windows can be opened wide. In Spain they are often planted in squares and along the roadside; it always surprises me how few drop and rot. A friend posted this http://quadernodenotas.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/por-ejemplo-mermelada/ (in Spanish) a while back, which says that the municipal oranges go straight into the trash.

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  13. George
    No orange trees around any of the mosques around here. But they are very big on oranges and orange juice. The grocery has machines that will squeeze out quarts of fresh orange juice for about $2.50 a quart. The only problem is they take the whole orange peel and all. I’m just not sure about the unwashed peel. And it does change the flavor. However the price and convenience is definitely interesting.

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    • I had a fruit concoction in Mexico once, prepared on a street vendor’s filthy cart, and lived. You should survive the orange juice. How about boiled orange juice? 🙂 Did you get the visas? I’ve been thinking about that. I genuinely hope it worked out!

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  14. Interesting and cute story, George…I used to wonder at all of the orange trees in medians in Arizona…someone told me that they were “decorative,” meaning that we really wouldn’t to eat them…and you’ve revealed the likely reason…. 🙂

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    • http://tinyurl.com/qk4va
      Here is the history. Very interesting that they’ve been around since prehistoric times and were the only orange trees in Europe for 500 years. They discouraged this Sinner. 🙂
      Wonder why they chose fruit-bearing trees for medians? The mess would be a real clean-up problem. Never mind; nothing we do makes much sense. I understand the blossoms are highly fragrant and delicious-smelling.

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      • Yes, the mess was a real problem…and yes, too…the blossoms do smell wonderfully. I actually planted two navel orange trees in my yard there specifically for the blooming season…and the secondary gain was the oranges, of course. Have you ever driven past an orange orchard when the trees were blooming??? Oh……it is rich and pungent and wonderful and intoxicating…it’s a very sensual and heady experience……from a mass of orange trees. 🙂

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  15. Too funny! I live around citrus groves. They plant bitter oranges around the perimeter to advertise oranges but to ward off “sinners”.

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    • I just read about “Sour Oranges”. They’re used for grafting and the fruit is used in many food processes. The history of the tree dates back to prehistoric times, and it was the only orange in Europe for 500 years! If you’re interested, here is the link to the Wiki article:
      http://tinyurl.com/qk4va. Thanks for confirming its existence as a valid species. 🙂

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  16. In my years in Questa we had an ancestral apple orchard. Some of the trees were over 75 years old and not a hybed among them. Some had the sweetest.fruit and some were bitter and sour. Cider apples. It was the sort of apple Johnny Appleseed planted. A lot of those original trees were torn down by abolishists. Definitely sinful apples.

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    • We had crab apple trees for cooking apples too. There are hard, sour pears for cooking. I have to ask the people at the mosque when I see someone there. It’s a mystery. Perhaps, only the stolen orange tasted bitter? 😉

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  17. Love your story and photographs George, especially the photo of the oranges against that blue Texas sky. We’ve lots of orange and grapefruit trees in the area here, completely burdened with fruit, and I’m not at all shy about asking. I’ve yet to get a bad one. I’m wondering what was up with that tree….

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    • Somebody said that there are bitter oranges used for cooking. That very well may be the case here. They definitely were not for eating. I’ll stop, confess, and ask when I see somebody there. 🙂 I wish we had orange trees in abundance here! I should plant one. Yes, that’s an idea. Thanks.

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  18. I have missed seeing this in Victoria but am not surprised that an Islamic Center is located there. Another great story and confession of theft! You utilized the sky wonderfully.

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    • Yes, it’s been here for a number of years now. It’s located on Airline Street between Navarro and Main-a block from Main Street (where Airline dead-ends into Main). The dome and crescent sun finial are copper and very impressive. The sky was clear and blue that day, thanks.

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    • Ha, RoSy. I thought about that while I was filching the orange. I’m seventy years old and I still felt like an errant child. Those Bible stories hook us, don’t they! 🙂

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  19. haha, I like this story. I particularly laughed at this, “I figured I’d done due diligence in my effort to obtain permission and proceeded toward my objective. Stealing oranges from a house of worship.”

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    • There’s that delightful face! 🙂 I embarked on my mission with some trepidation, I’ll admit. Somehow, the bad child in me feared the wrath of God, or worse, my Dad. But… lust for oranges won out in the end. There must be a parable in there somewhere… 🙂

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      • No … wrong title … yours was a delightful and honest story … period. It could have been about anyone … young or older – this was an age-neutral story. It was a story about a person experiencing something that all of us have experienced (though, perhaps, not in quite this way) – and you had the guts and gumption to tell us about it. Thank you for that. I know that all who will read it will laugh a little chuckle of knowing recognition. The adventure had nothing to do with age. Let’s call it … The Colorful Adventures of an Adventurous Woman … how’s that? D

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        • Okay, if you say so. However, I think I always dared to do and say stuff that other people wouldn’t. I never understood why it was unacceptable to write to the Attorney General of Texas and say, “What is it about ‘send coupons’ that you don’t understand?” I got the coupons for my employee so that I could send in his child support before the locals threw him in jail for non-payment. Now, that’s what I wondered and that’s what I asked! My secretary was horrified and said, “George, you can’t say that” when I gave it to her to type. To which objection I replied, ” Why not, I didn’t even curse!” I figure you don’t get what you don’t ask for. We’re all in this mess together, D. We might as well smile. 🙂

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    • Ah, yes, “purloined” is the word I scratched around in the cobwebs of my old brain looking for in vain. Thank you. Yes, the purloined grapes of my childhood were the best too! 🙂 Thank you for the visit and the return of my word…

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    • 🙂 🙂 Good to see you again! And to hear that you are feeling a bit better now. Here’s hoping for a happy spring view of the Sonoma Valley! I loved the photographs.

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  20. ‘Stealing oranges from a house of worship’ Oh I love your comic timing 🙂 I wonder if they were Seville oranges? Specially bitter, all the better for making marmalade…you should have gathered a few more!

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    • Yes, I think they were Seville oranges. Wiki says, “…The name “bitter orange”, also known as Seville orange, sour orange, bigarade orange, and marmalade orange…” Thank you for the name. The photo looks like my orange! Now, I wonder if the members make marmalade since they removed all of the oranges at once. I’ll stop and ask the next time I see somebody at the mosque. The telling of this little story has informed me about the finial (alem) in mosque construction as well. Today, I have learned two new things. Petty good average for an old woman. 😉 You are an adventurer too. I must come to visit. Thank you for stopping in!

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    • It is in Victoria where I live. I am about a hundred miles east of Austin. Victoria is a small town of sixty thousand or so. Thanks for reading my little story. 🙂

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      • Ottoman, I forgot to thank you for the information. I always admired this beautiful dome standing against the sky. The alem reminded me of the novel, “Half of a Yellow Sun” in which the crescent sun was symbolic. I didn’t know the name. Now, the symbolism in the novel is clear to me.

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  21. Heh, heh. I can just imagine that scene!!! I wonder if they’re some exotic orange trees having just ornamental fruit? I assume they’re not poisionous!

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    • Somebody said there is such a tree that produces “cooking oranges”. I don’t know, but I’m sure they aren’t harmful to eat. Just bitter. 🙂

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  22. You are amazing dear George, made me laugh too… These photographs are so nice, I love this “Alem” at the top of the dome, The crescent (sometimes with a star attached) made out of bronze or copper which is placed on the domes and at the peak of the mosques and minarettes. Thank you, Blessing and Happiness, love, nia

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    • Hi, Nia. Thank you for telling me about the Alem. This one is copper. I am happy to know this. I will research the meaning. Hope all is well in Turkey and with Nia especially! 🙂

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    • Thank you for the name of the finial atop the dome. The dome with its atem is beautiful against the sky. I have admired it for a long time without knowing the name or the origin of it. I discovered the crescent sun symbol through the novel, “Half of a Yellow Sun”. I still remember how I felt akin to the characters in that novel. It remains one of my favorite books.

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