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Orange Groves - In the Mood
As a child in the 70s, the orange groves of California hold several fond memories - Robert Plant, free oranges, and forts.
My mom and stepfather were hippies. They grew pot in a greenhouse, smoked doobie, and had loud all night parties. We even had bead doors. As a child of hippies, life was very interesting. The Orange Groves seemed to be a favorite place for my mom and stepfather to drive around in and get stoned. I guess it makes sense...no cops, cool scenery, and fresh orange smell. Since I was so young, I was always brought along for these trips. I think I was about six or seven at the time. I didn't mind at first because we typically went by Arby's or this Chinese Eggroll place first, so I got some decent food to eat while cruisin' around. Typically the trip would start with us driving to a random orange grove with takeaway from Arby's or the eggroll place. We would find a dirt road and slowly drive through the orange grove, often near an irrigation ditch. We were almost always in complete solitude. About the time we hit the dirt road, my mom and stepfather would "light up". This seemed to be about the same time Robert Plant's "In the Mood" started to play on the car stereo cassette player. The main speakers were in the back dashboard and I was in the back seat, so, naturally, the music was loudest for me. At first I was okay with this arrangement, but after hearing Robert Plant's "In the Mood" about 100 times straight, I started to go insane. Even the song, just once, repeats the phrase "I'm in the Mood for Melody" about 50 times. I guess this is a song you'd have to be stoned to appreciate. Anyway, I tried to block it all out and think of something else.
One of the benefits of living in California in the 70s is free oranges. There were many orange groves that literally had dirt road access, right off the main road. You simply had to drive down the dirt road, find a secluded spot, and run to the trees to pick ripe oranges. My mom and stepfather had a bucket that we routinely filled with oranges using this method.
As I recall, orange tress have branches that hang close to the ground. This makes the perfect place to hide and build a fort. A fort could simply be built around the trunk of the orange tree. The dirt could be piled up to close the gap between the lowest branches and the ground. Tumbleweeds could also be used to help close the gap. These forts served as hideaways from parents, school, and anything else. They were a nice place for solitude. Occasionally, an orange fight would break out and these forts served as shelters and places you kept ammunition (oranges) -- or, bottle rockets in some cases.