Feb 13, 2009

Honeybells are for eating

On a recent visit to a local Honeybell stand, a familiar bystander – recognizing me as a hydrologist, and also knowing me as Bob – inquired into how it is that the flows of a river can be measured:

“The streams seem so big, and there’s so much water passing through. You can’t possibly catch it all.”


Pausing to think, I picked up an orange, or in this case not an orange at all, but a honeybell – and a member of the Tangelo family no less – and proceeded to explain.

“The first thing I ever used to measure flow was an orange, if you can believe it, up on Deer Creek in Harford County Maryland. We’d plop it in the creek from the deck of a bridge and count in seconds how long it took to move downstream.”

I paused for thought again, and in doing so raised up the bell shaped tangelo up to the light.


“Of course, you’d never use a Florida Honeybell for such a task! They won’t float – too much juice (the good ones anyhow) – they’ll sink right to the bottom.”

“But you could use one as an anchor” I added “if you’re out there in a boat.”


My friend interrupted -- “So what your saying then is that you use boats to measure flow in the Everglades?”

“No way” I laughed, glad to be able to clear up any misconception. “During Honeybell season not only do we not have flow, we barely have any water to float a boat on!”



“But even if we did: a Florida Honeybell is 100 percent for eating. Always use a California orange to measure flows. They have a thicker skin, not as much juice – and quite frankly aren’t as sweet.”

At least to a Floridan.

16 comments:

Dancin' Fool said...

What an interesting post! And those Honeybells look fabulous. Its hard to imagine an orange so full of juice it would sink in water, now that's dense.

thepurplejournal said...

I've learned something new today. From this day forth, whenever I would pick up an orange (regardless of where it's from) I'll certainly remember this post :)

Elisabeth said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog, Bob. My boyfriend and I will be in Florida during the first week in March, doing a circuit around the entire state. Anything great to see around where you're located? If you have a minute, you can respond and give suggestions at walisabeth at yahoo dot com. Thanks!

I found this post really fascinating, as is your entire blog!

Julie said...

Now I would have loved to be sitting there eating one of the oranges and listening in on this conversation, LOL. Love the shots and now I have to go find a orange.

Arkansas Patti said...

Very interesting. Loved your accurate dig at California oranges. Used to gall me when I would go to Publix in Okeechobee and see California oranges for sale.

SJ said...

Hi, thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on my bread. It seems from your blog that we have something in common, my undergraduate work was in environmental science and I focused on water quality management. I've added you to my Google Reader and look forward to reading more! My Mom lives in Florida in the winter and has sent me some Honeybells, they are supposed to arrive this week. I can't wait for their amazing sweet and juicy taste, almost as good as homemade bread!

SJ said...

Hi, thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on my bread. It seems from your blog that we have something in common, my undergraduate work was in environmental science and I focused on water quality management. I've added you to my Google Reader and look forward to reading more! My Mom lives in Florida in the winter and has sent me some Honeybells, they are supposed to arrive this week. I can't wait for their amazing sweet and juicy taste, almost as good as homemade bread!

Tarolino said...

Thanks for visiting my valentine's post. Wishing you a very romantic day.
Love the picture in the middle. Flowing water is always so great and it is taken from a very good angle too.

Janie said...

Interesting that you'd use an orange (and only a California orange) to test stream flows.
I'm glad to have the recommendation on honeybells. I'll definitely buy some if I see them for sale. (Alas, I think we get mostly CA produce around here.)

Robert V. Sobczak said...

Thanks for your comments.

Dancing Fool- An early February Honeybell is comically heavy for its size. It has the feel of a miniature bowling ball.

The Purple Journal- I appreciate the endorsement.

Elisabeth- You've picked a perfect time to travel to Florida, you should hit the weather perfectly. The only problem is there won't be much water.

Julie- Pick up a copy of John McPhee's "Oranges." It's about as good a book on Florida oranges as there is.

Patti- That's funny about the California oranges, especially up in the heart of Florida orange country. Long live the Florida farm stand!

SJ- I'm envious: they always send the picture perfect ones up north. And you'll see: they are orange gold!

Tarolino- There's a back story to that photo. That weir in the foreground is the location that the U.S. Geological Survey measures stream flow on Deer Creek, the same place I threw the oranges.

Janie- It was more for anecdotal purposes when I was a kid. But it led me down the path that water could be quantified. As for an oranges taste, some would say that that is 100 percent subjective. As for Honeybells being the best ... in my opinion, that's a fact!

Indrani said...

Very interesting and informative post! Next time I buy oranges, I will surely think of this post. :)

Cicero Sings said...

Thanks for visiting my blog once again and leaving a comment.

I have never had a Honeybell and will look for them. We would never find them up here in the Cariboo ... but next time I'm down in Vancouver ... perhaps I'd stand a chance!

I started grade one in Ft. Lauderdale ... Hurricane Donna went through that year but missed us!

RuneE said...

Ah the Winnie The Pooh way of doing it. Keep it simple. And you have taught me that there is something called a Honeybell. All knowledge is of value.

Suzanne said...

I really enjoyed this post, though I am not sure I have heard of a honeybell before.
Thank you for sharing.

Reader Wil said...

Thank you for this information! Very interesting, I've actually never thought of it. I learn new things each time when I go visiting other blogs.

George said...

Once again I've learned quite a bit from your post. By the way, I'm not a Floridian, but I agree with you on the sweetness of the oranges!