I know, it's a bit tacky to be abusing that wonderful word "karma" for a seemingly trivial purpose, but it does seem like a bad year for our modest citrus crops...
Remember, I wrote some two weeks ago about the fate of the little lemon tree, on the street side of our house. We returned from a weekend away to find that its entire crop had been lopped off the tree--not picked, mind you, but hacked away, heedless of the shape of the tree, with shears. It felt like a violation.
Now, this Sunday, we returned late afternoon to discover that the kumquat tree on the balcony behind the house had suffered a similar fate. When we left on Friday, it had been blessed with a generous crop of fruit, all ripening nicely, ready to be plucked. We had in fact already picked a few--you can't pick too many at one time, unless you're planning to make kumquat marmalade--to add to our fruit salads and dinner salads. Now, Sunday, there were two little kumquats left on the branches. The rest had disappeared.
Well, our balcony is built high above the ground. The only access to it is through the glass doors from the living room--unless you want to shimmy up twenty feet or more of cold steel column from the garden, access to which also requires a key to open the sturdy gate that blocks the long side stairway. Besides, unlike the lemon tree, the branches themselves were left intact. Clearly, this was not the work of human vandals.
The solution to the mystery soon became apparent. Rats. They are common denizens of the hills around us, not frequently seen, in our experience, but present everywhere. They had left their nasty little turds on the balcony around the base of the big pot in which the kumquat tree is planted. And they had made off with literally dozens of the precious fruit that we had been looking forward to enjoying.
We have been blaming the local squirrels for the loss of other fruit on the balcony. Now they're off the hook. I offer them my apologies for the aspersions and imprecations I seem have mis-cast in their direction. Our fellow creatures need to survive, I guess, as we do. At least this four-footed kind had the decency to respect the integrity of the tree from which they stole, unlike their human counterparts. Still, I do resent their thieving habits, and am wondering how to protect the remaining lemons from their predatory habits...
Any ideas, out there?