jueves, 14 de mayo de 2015

Citrus fruits

   The fields of oranges were huge, covering many square kilometers. The best part though, was the smell of the whole place: it felt like it opened the nostrils and entered strongly into the body, making you feel more alive than ever. Here and there, workers picked up the oranges from the trees and let the ones that were in the ground for the eventual animals that came and ate them. Many machines existed to pick up the fruit but this farm kept with the usual method of using people, which were more careful. They had even go one more step further by hiring only women.

 It was funny to be at the gates of the farm in the afternoon, when the shifts ended, and seeing all those women come out, like a horde of soldiers coming back from a particularly tough battle. And it was exactly that as many times, the climate was particularly harsh. The sun was always a bother but they also had to deal with various animals such as bees and wasps, that every so often tried to make a hive in the area. The women had learned how to deal with them long ago and they rarely sent someone to the main house to ask for help. They could deal with it themselves.

 In the house there was only a first processing plant for the oranges, which selected the best of the best. But the curious thing was that rarely any oranges were thrown out because of their state. Those that were, however, were transformed into compost to feed the plants that existed all over the farm. The owner of the emporium was called Archibald Kostas. He was an English but with a Greek father and a German mother, an uncommon but effective combination as he had inherited all the good traces of both cultures.

 Archibald had been born in London. His family lived there because of his father’s work and they were happy it was that way because they way all of this differences would make him a better person and a more intelligent one. His mother was always very strict but loving and his father was the kind of man that always brought a gift for their children when coming back from work. Archibald had a sister called Athena, who was also an English citizen. His father worked in a company that owned many shipyards across Europe and that’s why they always moved and why they loved the sea. They had always lived close to it and they wouldn’t change that for anything.

 When he was a bit older, just before college, Arbchibald traveled Europe with friends and discovered how much he really loved the sea and what nice warm climates made for his body and normal behavior. When he visited the Alps or the cities along the Danube, he was miserable. Not only because of the lack of ocean but because the environment didn’t made him feel good. Some people said it was the altitude and other that he was too used to the same thing that he had lived all of his life but it didn’t mattered. He discovered what he loved and decided to pursue it. In the end, most people had no idea what they liked so young in life, so he guessed it was good it happened to him.

 Archie, as his parents and friends lovingly called him, received his degree in agronomy and decided, when he was only twenty-two years old, to fly down to Greece and settle there. Because it was the birthplace of his father, he knew the country very well and how the people were and what they liked. So with help from his dad he bought a good piece of terrain north of Athens and began exploring what would be the ideal crop to plant there.

 There were a lot of options but Archie wanted one that would employ many people of the region and also be good for them. He wanted the farm to be completely ridden of any chemical agents or strange artifacts that were used in the huge farm of Europe and North America. He wanted something big but more relatable, close to the people. Citrus fruits were a great option and most of them were cultivated the same way so if the farm got really big he could mix things up by having many kinds in one same place.

 He started with the basic citrus fruit, the one that everyone loved and that he knew would sell beautifully in the region: oranges. It took some time to have all the trees giving fruit but, when they did, he decided to hire workers from the region to help with the harvest. It was like that that it all began, with just a bunch of trees and some hands. Today, the farm spanned various hectares of not only orange trees but also other citrus fruits like lemons, tangerines, grapefruits, limes and many others.

 At first, the farm sold only the raw fruit but when his father visited the farm for the first time, some months prior to his death, he advised his son to also process the fruits in another plant and turn them in to juice. People love all those natural flavors, rid of the chemicals that most brands put on their liquids and it was time people had another option. They could start by selling some bottles on the local market and then see if people actually like it. If they did, they could began expanding to bigger cities and then the whole country.

 Archibald had achieved exactly that some five years after his father’s passing and, in his honor, had put a plaque next to the main gate of the farm to inform people that his father had always been a visionary, although frequently in the shipyard business. He had also been a great father and Archie would always thank him for being such a great guy, so relatable and supportive. Eventually, the juices that he sold all over Greece got the name of his fathers, Kostas. Every person in the region loved driving past the Kostas farm because of the smell that invaded the body and refreshed the environment nicely.

 Archie, however, had not inherited his dad’s ability to form a loving and caring family. The owner of such a great enterprise was also a lonely man after three divorces and the death of one wife that surprisingly showed no signs of wanting to leave him until she died in a car crash not very far from the farm. From those relationships, he had gotten two sons and one daughter but they rarely visited him, after living with their respective mothers for a long time. Those women hated him too much to tell anything good about him to their children and it was clear they all resented Archie, for no apparent reason.

 He invited them every summer, to the farm; in order to try to connect with them one more time but it was all a waste of time. They just didn’t like anything that he did, anything that he said. The only time he felt they were a bit sympathetic was when his mother died after a long and painful disease. He was broken and more alone than ever and seeing them in the funeral and staying some time in his house was comforting and he even go to think it would last but it didn’t. They were just being “nice” but they couldn’t keep up forever so they left and rarely came back.

When turning sixty, Archie had decided to stop looking for love. It had brought him nothing but trouble and preferred to live in peace in his farm, surrounded by helpers and workers that liked his company and that sometimes talked to him about the problems they had or about general issued that everyone had on their mind. Of course, he still liked to look at women but he had no intention of taking any of them as a bride. Anyway, he thought his looks had passed, being a thing of his early days so even if he wanted; looking for a companion would be very difficult.

 The thing that made him happier than anything else was walking his farm, seeing the workers do their job and feeling the scent of so many fruits. He would take a small bag with him and walk to the edge of the farm, which now reached a cliff overlooking the sea. He would sit there and take out of his bag a bottle of orange juice and picture of his parents. He always remembered the first time they came here and knew how proud they both were of what he had done with his life. The way they looked all over was like seeing children in a candy store, in a really huge candy store.

 He realized that precisely was the greatest achievement of his life. Not the farm itself, not his children or the millions of dollars won with the fruits and the juices, not even all that he owned. It was the fact that he made his parents proud and happy. It should be every son or daughter’s goal to make their parents smile and he knew he had achieved that. Unfortunately, he would never get to be proud of his children, as he didn’t even know them. He regretted it for a long time but then, he just didn’t care.

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