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Grapefruit at My Grandparent's House

(post, Anne Zimmerman)

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When I was a little girl my grandparents lived in Texas. Because of the distance between Texas and Utah, we didn’t get to see them very often. When we did visit them I was always very aware, searching with all my senses for clues to the kind of people they were. Every day, it seemed, they ate a half a grapefruit for breakfast. I assume they favored Texas Ruby Reds, but I don’t know. What I do remember is that the grapefruits were large, bigger than a baseball, pink, and fragrant. 

Each morning my grandmother would slice one, put one half in a bowl for herself, and give the other half to my grandfather. They ate their fruit with special spoons, serrated on the edges, a rounded point at the tip. The spoon helped maneuver delicate triangles of grapefruit flesh safely from bowl to mouth. 

I didn’t like grapefruit that was too tart, so some mornings I would look at the coral colored sliced fruit and turn up my nose. I was picky that way. Other mornings I was drawn to the pinky-orange hue that greeted me and made the table look bright and festive. I would sprinkle my half with spoonfuls of white granulated sugar and dig in. I always left ample pulpy leftovers and lots of juice for someone else to devour. 

My grandparents were proper people. They used cloth napkins, even at breakfast, drank black coffee from porcelain cups, and set their muffins on a plate before carefully slicing them and spreading them with butter. The muffins were brown, dense, and healthy, full of bran and dark raisins. I didn’t like them much, and wished instead for the cupboard full of sugar coated cereals that could be found at my other grandmother’s house. 

On their humble table it was the grapefruit that glittered, an exotic fruit not seen much at home. I sat at the table, listened to the adult conversation, and watched the careful consumption of pink fruit, black coffee, and brown muffins. It was resolute, quiet, a calm way to start the day. The birds chirped in the warm air outside the sliding doors and we sat.

As an adult I don’t eat grapefruit very often. I don’t have time in the morning – grapefruits aren’t a peel and eat fruit. When I do it is special. With just one taste of a perfectly ripe, sweet-tart grapefruit I am taken back to my grandparent’s house: their small wooden table, my grandfather’s large, wrinkled hands, and the way they shook sometimes as he carried the spoon to his mouth.