While cooking a couple nights ago, I heard a hearty "YOO HOO!" followed by a series of full stomach chuckles from my porch. I looked over at the front window, figuring the sounds came from a friend on her way in the door, smiled, and waved at the window. The light was sufficiently dark outside that the light from the kitchen reflected me back in the window, so I couldn't see who the caller was.
When I opened the door, I quickly realized my guest was not a friend, nor an acquaintance, but rather a person I had never met before.
"I'm going to have salmon tonight for dinner," she quickly said as I opened the door, "and I was wondering if I could have some of your lemons."
Now, this has happened before, more than once actually, as I've found notes on my door with quarters taped to them, or people in the middle of snagging them when I arrive home, or children asking me politely. I usually tell people to take the lemons from the front tree and leave the back tree alone, but most of the people who snag my lemons don't ask me, so I can't tell them to take from the community tree and not the personal tree.
I gave my standard answer when people ask about food in my front yard, "Sure!" expecting her to take one or two lemons and leave.
She said "Thanks!" and tried to hand me a couple dollars cash. I pulled my hands away, telling her no, she didn't have to pay me, just pick the darker ones, they're sweeter. She was surprised, but left with a bounce in her step.
As she stepped away, she pulled out a plastic bag, presumably to fill with lemons. I noticed this morning that I don't have any yellow lemons on either of my trees at this point.
My mom had a similar problem a couple years ago, where someone asked if they could have "some oranges" from her trees, the oranges hanging over the fence, accessible from the road. After she said yes, she noticed two trucks, four Mexicans and the guy who had asked for her permission stripping all the fruit, ripe or not, from her trees. In a huff, she shooed them away, disgruntled a bit at the abuse of her good graces.
I'm not quite sure how I feel about it at the moment, with my lemon trees in the front. No one seems to have snagged any of the pomegranates from the tree in the front yard, though all of the almonds were stolen (I assumed by squirrels, though I have no proof of that one way or the other). Perhaps when the full front yard garden goes in, I'll have to put up fences, even a low one, to delineate "my" space from "public" space. Maybe even a trellis over the edge of the driveway, to further limit the space.
I really don't want to do that, but I really do like my lemons.