The ringing phone in the middle of the night startled LJ awake. “This can’t be good,” he thought as he noted the caller ID. “Uday, everything okay?”
“I’m sorry to wake you LJ, I’ve got an urgent problem. Nisha and I are calling for help. The temperature has been below 28 degrees for the past four hours. This means our citrus trees can be permanently damaged if they don’t get water. I found a leak in the mainline that feeds the micro-sprinklers and just got it fixed, but each sprinkler needs to be checked and adjusted. There are hundreds of them. Can you help?”
LJ was getting dressed as he listened. “Yes, of course. I should be there in about forty-five minutes.”
“Thanks, and dress for freezing weather. Drive straight out to the citrus orchards; we’ll meet you there,” said Uday as he rushed off the phone.
Annie looked at LJ, “I’m going too. You can fill me in on the drive.”
“Ok, dress warmly, Annie; it’s frigid.”
The drive out to East County was beautiful. The further they drove away from the city’s lights, the clearer the sky, and more stars were revealed. The light of the full moon contributed to the ethereal look of the slumbering landscape.
“Sweetheart, what did Uday tell you?”
“They need help with their water system. The citrus crop is in trouble due to the dropping temperature. To save it during a freeze, growers aim micro-sprinklers at the base of a tree that sprays an icy mist engulfing the trunk and lower branches. Once on the tree, the mist converts to ice and emits heat. As the water continuously changes to ice, the ice-water mixture’s temperature remains at 32 degrees. That temperature protects the tree and fruit; anything below begins to cause damage. Uday said it’s been 28 degrees for hours.”
Annie put on her gloves, “I hope the kumquats survive. That sweet-tart flavor loaded with vitamins A and C coupled with its high-fiber smooth skin, is delicious, and you can eat them right off the tree when they ripen.”
“I’m glad you like them, for being the smallest member of the citrus family, they sure pack a mouth-puckering punch. Personally, I like tangerines; their thin skin comes off easily and is a source of tangeretin, a super-flavonoid, which appears to help lower cholesterol. They are also a source of vitamin C, which supports healthy skin and eyesight.”
They arrived at the citrus orchards and were greeted by Nisha. “Thank you so much for coming.”
“Of course, we’re glad you called. It looks like your entire family is here,” said Annie as she noted the many familiar faces.”
“Yes, thank god for family and friends who are like family. Uday is showing us how to check and adjust the sprinklers over here,” she said as they walked towards the Orange’s orchard.
The Patel’s had decided to plant the Navel and Valencia variety because each produced a plump, juicy, and delicious fruit that most people enjoy as a snack. As a healthy source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, folate, and thiamine, eating or drinking its juice contributes to digestive health, weight-loss, and low cholesterol levels.
Annie and LJ finished their instructions and set out for the Clementine’s orchard. As they walked, they noticed the citrus smell in the air.
“Here are the Clementine’s,” said LJ. “They are one of my favorites because they are seedless and easy to peel, great for snacking. Some people confuse them with tangerines, but they are really a smaller orange from the mandarin orange family. They are sweeter and grow well in cold weather. Like all citrus fruits, their vitamin C helps the body absorb iron more efficiently.”
They worked for several hours, stopping to watch the sunrise, which revealed orchard after orchard engulfed in mist; an indication that the sprinklers were working.
“We did it,” said Nisha. “It looks like we have saved these crops, which means there will be plenty to help folks chase colds, flu, and the winter blues away. We could not have done it without all the help. For you two to come right away means a lot to us. How about a couple of cases of fruit for all of your trouble?”
LJ smiled, “Yes, thanks. We squeezed victory from the jaws of defeat!”

Annie and LJ are a fictional couple introduced to the readers of the Healthy Healing Eats blog in January 2020. Their storyline promotes healthy
eating and earth-friendly practices.


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