Oranges, by John McPhee (New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, reissue 1975)
First published in 1966, Oranges, initially "conceived as a short magazine article,” was one of the first books written by the prolific John McPhee. In his hands “the botany, history and industry” of oranges becomes fascinating. Although McPhee follows the migration of oranges worldwide, time spent in Indian River, Florida, is of particular interest as he pursues botanists, pickers, packers, and growers.
"With aerospace and realty interests preempting the northern shores of the Indian River, new plantings have been made in the south. Until 1959, all groves were within two or three miles of the ocean. They had to be, since most of the length of the river is paralleled, a couple of miles inland, by vast savannas, which are largely under water nine months of the year.
Much of the west bank of the river is a kind of loaf of ground, described by Floridians as a 'bluff' even when it rises only thirteen feet above sea level. But it is high ground indeed compared to what lies beyond it. The savannas reach out to the western horizon, low and flat, filled with saw grass and cat-o'-nine-tails, small cypress trees, and occasional hammocks covered with cabbage palms. Otter live in the savannas, and alligators, wildcat, quail, deer, rabbit, wild turkey, water moccasins, and rattlesnakes.” – from Oranges, by John McPhee