While in many places throughout Turkey, the snow has begun to fall, down here in Osmaniye we are just entering citrus season. Our nights are now quite chilly (mid-40s fahrenheit/ 7 degrees celcius) but the sun still shines during the day and temps climb to the upper 60s fahrenheit/ 20 degrees celcius. Fall is my favorite season, so I am happy we are finally entering it. It is delightful. The best part about it is that fruits and vegetables are still growing in abundance.
Our university is surrounded with citrus trees and olive groves. Piles of citrus line the highways nearby; they are bagged up and make their way into the city, where we can purchase them for mere change. Truck loads roll through town, and when purchasing a bag-full at the market, the vendor often tosses in another four or five to ensure you are getting your lira’s worth.
Oranges make up about half of Turkey’s citrus production, with tangerines and lemons coming up next, followed by grapefruit at a much smaller percentage, although this yield has seen an increase in recent years. About 60 percent of citrus fruit is eaten here in Turkey. An astounding 30 kilos, or 66 lbs, of fresh citrus fruit is consumed per captia domestically in a year. The majority of citrus fruit that is exported heads to Iraq, Russia, Iran and Ukraine. (Info from a 2011 USDA report on citrus production in Turkey)
Several Christmases ago, my family received a package from friends in California containing a branch full of lemons. The realization that in December, in some parts of the world, lemons were growing on trees in December really made an impression on me. Citrus trees are not something you will find growing freely in Oklahoma. I vowed, at some point in my life, to live somewhere where lemons, oranges, avocados, and other such delights could grow outside my door. And here I am, enjoying every day in my town in Southeastern Turkey.