by Edward Bloor
Tangerine Part 3, Chapter 3 Summary
Thursday, November 23, Thanksgiving
- On Wednesday, it finally gets cold, so Mrs. Fisher asks Erik for his key to the storage unit, so she can get some winter clothes out. But he's left it in his school locker, and can't bring it home until after school.
- She doesn't want to wait that long, so she decides to see if the employees at the storage place have another way to let her in.
- Meanwhile, Paul gets to school, only to find that a ton of kids are absent.
- He asks Henry D. why, and he tells him they're home "fighting the freeze" (3.3.33).
- Henry D. explains that families who grow citrus or vegetables need their kids to stay and help protect the crops when it gets this cold. They start bonfires in their groves, or do whatever else they can to create some warmth.
- Paul decides he'd like to go help Luis and Tino save their tangerines after school, and Henry D. agrees.
- He leaves a message for his mom, and then he and Wayne head over to the Cruz's.
- When they get to Luis's place, they see that the Cruz family has iced down their new grove.
- What? Aren't they trying to prevent just that?
- Wayne explains that they spray water on the trees when it freezes because that keeps them at 32 degrees. It's 31 degrees that kills a tree.
- But they can't just ice down all their trees, because it's expensive, so they use water pumps powered by diesel fuel to spray them.
- And there's no guarantee it'll work: the ice has to stay slushy, because if it freezes hard, branches will start cracking off.
- Ugh, you guys, this is seriously stressful.
- Paul and Henry tell Luis they want to help. Luis doesn't understand why, and is worried about insurance and permission—but his dad, Tomas, welcomes the help.
- The boys go with Tino, but Paul calls his mom first. She sounds kind of mad, but not really at him—it's weird.
- He doesn't tell her the truth about what he's doing though—just that it's a slumber party.
- The Quonset hut is filled with baby trees now, and Tino tells them that they shoveled a ton of dirt from their old grove last night to put around the Golden Dawns. They have to bury them in dirt up above the bud union, where they grafted on the Golden Dawn scions. Otherwise, the tangerine part will die and just leave the rough lemon rootstock.
- Tino explains that his dad and uncle are starting a huge bonfire in the Cleopatra tangerine grove, and Luis will be running the pumps to keep the new grove iced down.
- The boys will be helping everywhere—dragging brush and tires to the fire, hacking ice off branches, and hauling more dirt.
- Tino shows them some trees they'll be using for firewood. The trees are the highest in the grove, and already dead—they use them as lightning rods, to protect their citrus trees.
- Henry also notices some smudge pots, and asks Tino if they'll be carrying the diesel out to fuel them, too. Yup, that'll be another of their jobs.
- Tino shows them a big mounted thermometer, and explains that there are several of them spread out around the groves. He'll keep Luis posted on the temperature, and Luis will calculate what they need to do, and when, based on that.
- They're in for a long night, but everyone's pretty chill. Some trees are going to die, no matter what, but they're going to do what they can.
- Paul thinks about everyone in Lake Windsor Downs tonight, burning fake logs and drinking hot cocoa. Nice contrast, right?
- Time to work. First, they fill 100 smudge pots with diesel, light them, and keep them burning all night.
- Then, the crises start. The boys are kept running from one emergency to the next, as the bonfire threatens to go out, or the ice starts weighing down the branches.
- But they know they're losing. The temperature is down to 24 degrees, and Luis tells them that if it stays that cold for ten more minutes, he's calling the work off—it'll all be over.
- Paul realizes how exhausted he is, but as he looks over the frozen trees, glowing from the fires, he thinks it's beautiful.
- Luis and his dad and uncle decide to keep trying, but they send the boys inside to warm up.
- Paul is freezing—his fingers won't even close around a cup of coffee.
- Finally, Luis announces the temp has gone up to about 29 degrees—they're still in business.
- The boys get ready to go back out and help some more, but Luis has also said that Paul should stay in and sleep—he's a mess.
- Luis comes to check on him, and Paul tells him he saw what happened with Arthur and Erik. Luis smiles and says they'll talk later, and Paul crashes.
- When he wakes up, the guys are just coming back inside. Tino thanks, and Paul apologizes for his jerk brother. Group hug!
- Luis asks Paul to come outside, and tells him that Antoine Thomas and a friend have told Luis to come back on Monday, and they'd help him take care of Erik and Arthur.
- Hm, that doesn't sound so good.
- Finally, Paul's mom shows up to take him home.
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