Have you ever bitten into a lemon? I did once, when I was a kid. Note the word once. I quickly realized that some fruit have a taste other than sweet.

Now, I realize that many people love to eat lemons. (My mother for instance.) And this article talks about the benefits of eating lemons: https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefit-eating-whole-fresh-lemons-4390.html

Yet I prefer my lemons paired with other things: sugar and water in lemonade; sugar, water, and tea for iced tea; or sugar, eggs, flour, and other ingredients in lemon meringue pie or lemon bars. Even the lemon candy I like is of the sweet and sour variety.


It’s much the same with stories. I like a mixture of sweet and sour. Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien; Sabriel by Garth Nix; Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016 movie; the novelization was written by Alexander Freed). An author who writes this kind of story has to strike the right balance between hope and hopelessness.


Usually I love the point in the story where things are at their worst, and you don’t think good can come out of it—but then it does, sometimes at a high cost. A thoroughly satisfying conclusion is a great reward for that kind of tension.

I also think of lemons because the sourness of life sucks sometimes. I can’t help putting it that baldly. (Yes, baldly.) Jobs are lost. People you love face health issues or are in emotional pain. These moments are the “shut the book, Dad” moments Samwise Gamgee talked about in Lord of the Rings—the moments when you’re not sure everything will turn out right. I’m in that kind of moment right now. Maybe one day, I’ll provide the full details. But I wanted to write about it in the moment—when a happy ending isn’t a guarantee—because often you hear stories of triumph after the fact, after the darkness has passed and the “sun shines all the clearer”—another quote given to Samwise, this time in The Two Towers:

I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you.

These words gives me hope when life hands out lemons. May they enable you to keep pressing on in a sour/dark time of your own.

Now I’m thinking of some words Galadriel spoke in Fellowship of the Ring:

May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.

Lemon image from freepik. Lemon meringue pie image from Pillsbury. Lemonhead image from Target. Quote from Two Towers is from the script by Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair, and Fran Walsh © 2002. Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee image from Cinema Blend. Words of Galadriel and others are by J. R. R. Tolkien.

45 thoughts on “Lemons

  1. Good morning, L. Marie! Lemons are a great metaphor for the sweet-/sour in life and in literature. When we go to a restaurant, my husband often orders a small dish of letters to eat raw – not in tea or as a food garnish. :-/

    Thanks for your book selections here. I agree about authors needing to strike the right balance between sweet and sour. I gave that issue serious thought when I wrote my memoir and most readers haven’t complained that there’s too much “bitter.”

    You are a light in a dark place, L. Marie. I appreciate your enlightening posts, which sometimes are even light-hearted. Blessings to you, and happy Valentine’s Day!

    • Thank you, Marian! Hope you and your hubby have a lovely Valentine’s Day!

      In your memoir, I thought you did an excellent job at balancing the sweet and sour events of your life. Kudos to you! 😀 Being vulnerable is not easy.

  2. I adore lemon meringue pie, which is not the point of your post but I felt the need to say that here. I also agree that lemons are a good way to think about life, the sourness and the sweetness. And what makes you healthy and whole. And how the color yellow is pretty.

    You said “when a happy ending isn’t a guarantee” and I won’t pry about that, but I’m glad that you’re processing your experiences in real time here on your blog, thus adding some food for thought to my day. Take care.

    • Thank you, Ally! I wanted to be real and not wait until an assured ending has taken place. Sometimes we need the “in process” messages.

      Now I’m really craving lemon meringue pie. Haven’t had it in awhile.

  3. When my nephew was a little boy, he used to eat lemons like he was eating an apple. I love sour things, too…more than sweet.
    It’s unfortunate that happy endings aren’t guaranteed, but having experienced difficult times in my life, I do believe the hard times make us who we are today. Your post brought to mind a saying about all of us having cracks…a lot of them, but it’s okay because that’s where the light shines through. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  4. I have a few things to write about lemons. When I was a nine years old, I wrote a fiction story for an assignment in class. I titled it, “The Un-Sour Lemon.” I’ll never forget it, because my teacher loved it and put it in the school paper. It was the first time I knew I wanted to be a writer.

    I’m dealing with lemons right now myself, in the loss of Max, and I thank you for sharing those quotes.

    L, I’ve been thinking about you lately, because we haven’t heard from you as much. I’m sorry to hear you’re dealing with lemons. I’m not too far away, so if there is anything I can do, let me know. My warmest wishes to you. Hugs.

    • I figured you would understand, Lori. Some seasons are more difficult than others. I haven’t posted as much because I’m too honest to post something I don’t feel. And lately, I’ve felt a loss of words. Working through that now.

      I appreciate the poem you posted and how you’ve shared your journey in the wake of the loss of Max.

      • I know what you mean about writing what you’re feeling. I can’t seem to write anything but what I’m feeling about Max. It’s nice to read other posts to get my mind off of it, but I hope I don’t lose blogging friends by always writing what I’m feeling over this loss. 🤷‍♀️

        Thank you so much for reading about it, L. Sending you warm thoughts. 💗

  5. I’m sorry you’re going through a tough time, L. Marie. I agree about the balance in books – I can’t bear ones that are totally hopeless – we have to believe there’s always hope or sometimes it would be too hard to get out of bed in the morning. Take care, my friend, and I hope some sugar comes into your life soon.

  6. “But I wanted to write about it in the moment—when a happy ending isn’t a guarantee…”
    Very hard to do and yet you did so with grace.
    Praying for you especially during this time of ‘in process’.
    As for the lemons? I love ’em! Without sugar, please.

  7. I haven’t had a lemon meringue pie for a while, but I do love them. It was my mom’s favorite pie too. Your lemon metaphor brings to mind the Chinese choice of metaphor. They always seem to talk about bitter and sweet–which is neither here nor there, I guess.

    I hope your life soon becomes the perfect recipe with just the right amount of lemon and sugar.

    I read a short story today that had an unhappy ending. Someone stepped in and ruined everything for the situation and for our hero. Surprisingly, I loved the story and its ending. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because it wasn’t the hero’s fault, and in the end we still thought well of him. It probably works better in a SS than in a novel. (I keep getting off the subject today, but I guess your post sparked some ideas.)

    • Thanks, Nicki!
      Some stories are memorable because they are satisfying, even if they are sad. I can’t help thinking of some tragedies I’ve read or watched. Macbeth is a tragedy, yet it is satisfying.

  8. Ah, the bitter and the sweet – you write about it so well, L. Marie. It brings so many lemony things to mind. I hope that your process finds a balance and wish you the best. Hugs to you.

    In some marriage celebrations, usually Mediterranean, especially Greek, there is practice of giving out small packages of Jordan almonds, favors if you will, some fancy, some merely tied in netting and ribbon.They are given to remind all of the passages of life – both the bitter (almond) and sweet (candy coating).

  9. I hope this will be true for you, L: “But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.” Thank you for sharing these quotes and for sharing yourself. I had noticed that you were blogging less and I truly understand how it’s hard to “blog happy” when you’re not feeling that way. Every so often I think I should be honest with folks, with this lovely writing community we have, but I let time slip away instead, hoping for a happy ending or at least the darkness to pass, whether or not the sun shines. I do hope the sun shines for you soon. You are a bright spot in my blogging world. I love you can take something so ordinary–like a lemon–and make it food for thought (pun intended) 😉

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