Tours Open at Friend's Ranches

Mid-winter is the start of citrus time in the Golden State.

LIKE LITTLE SUNS ON THE TREES: The visual representation of February looks like something out of an Arctic travel brochure or weather-warning poster. Illustrated icicles hang from eaves, branches glisten with water droplets in mid-drop, and the snow is always hip-deep (or knee-deep, if the poster wants to represent a nicer February). But we Californians know that the one-size-fits-all notions behind the second month on the calendar never have quite fit us. Yes, our mountains are still getting the flakes, and we usually remember to grab a light jacket when walking out of our front doors in the morning. But February around the Golden State is, well, sorry to say this everywhere else, rather golden. Wildflowers are starting to make their first stands in our more arid desert regions and elsewhere?

THINGS ARE GROWING, TOO. Not just "things" but those things that very much represent the California dream, at least in terms of our state's classic visual representations: citrus. Come the middle of winter our groves and treeful expanses are looking mightily dotted with orange orbs and lemony spheres and tangerines and clementines of every stripe. It's like seeing little suns sprout among the leaves, as if to remind people that February isn't all icicles, or even any icicles, around here. Want to see the evidence for your own citrus-loving self? Friend's Ranches is kicking off its orchard tours.

YES, ORCHARD TOURS... in February. Friend's Ranches has been an Ojai Valley citrus staple for over a century, so they know how to grow, and how to explain, in interesting and lively terms, how a tangerine comes to be. While the first tour of 2015 was canceled, the next date is a go as of this typing, and look at what it is: Saturday, Feb. 14. Would that be a sweet Valentine's outing for your sweetheart? You'll get history, fruit-based knowledge, and you "pick a bag of fruit to take home with you." Friend's grows over "15 varieties of tangerines as well as blood oranges, minneolas, and more!" We were sold even before the "more" with exclamation point. Why? Because while we do like a frosty February, we like California's easier, breezier, tangerine-hued version of the month, too. If you do as well, sign up for your Friend's Ranches tour via a form found on this page.

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