Raising Cane

A few nights ago, a knock at the front door brought a surprise -- Charlie's friend George standing there holding a 7-foot-tall stalk of sugar cane. His dad was pruning back their plants at home and George thought we'd like to have a souvenir. (He knows us pretty well.) His family is from Egypt, and his father Ash has fond memories of growing up with sugar cane everywhere. Sugar, theirs for the taking, all they had to do was cut it open (carefully avoiding the outer stalks with their razor-sharp edges).

We were a little surprised to discover that sugar cane thrives here in Southern California. (I guess I'd always thought of it as a Hawaiian crop.) It seems a little out of place here in the 'burbs, but then again, our neighbors also grow banana trees without a problem. To get to the sugar inside, you shave off the outer husky layer, then just chew on the inside. It's like chewing on very sweet sugar crystals. Chew on it for a little while, then spit out the rest like gum.

Yesterday, George and his little brother Johnny came over and the boys planted sugar cane in our back yard, taking pieces that Husband had cut, about 6 inches long, and placing them lengthwise in shallow holes (shallow because the boys were goofing instead of digging). The weather was glorious -- the sky bright blue, puffy white cumulus clouds, wind rushing around, Chance barking (then discovering sugar inside his own piece of cane - pure joy). Life is good, and a year from now, if we're very good, we'll have our own sugar cane to add to the lemons from our lemon tree and we'll make wonderful lemonade just like George's mom's (who makes the best).


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