Citrus and Sweet Gardenias


In the tiny moment between dreams and daytime,
The cool air sifts over my windowsill and lays down over me like a blanket,
And for a moment,
I am there, in Florida.

Those well-loved days are long gone now,
With Mom and Dad and Grandmommy and Granddaddy,
With aunts and uncles and cousins.
But memories gleam brightly,
More vividly than yesterday.
Memories of many childhood summer vacations
In that marvelous, magical world
Called “Florida.”

Early we would rise
When the fateful day came.
Last-minute checks of lists and luggage,
Then all six of us piled in the car with past-times and refreshments.
Always, we would mark the same familiar landmarks
Telling us we were one mile closer
To Florida.

The appearance of the spooky, old-fashioned Spanish moss in the Carolina’s.
Ten times more tacky “South of the Border” signs
Than any one person needs to see in a lifetime.
The stench of the Okeepenokee Swamp.
The orange groves, so neat and rolling long,
With their tasty fruit calling.

And finally,
The palm trees.
We’re here, tired, dirty, cramped,
But we’re here.
The last yellow line on the Triple A trip tik
Followed to the very end.

A good night’s sleep now,
And that enchanting moment of summer’s daybreak
When in, through the old gray slats of the hurricane windows,
Steals the soft-settling blanket of fresh Floridian air
Bearing the precious, particular scents
Of salt, and seaweed,
Citrus, and sweet gardenias.

You might lie there in that feathery dew,
And in your waking dreams
See tides and alligators,
Foam and flamingos,
Captain Hook, and the cute blond boy next door,
Until consciousness came.
But when it did, instantly you dallied no more,
Because you knew
You were
In Florida.

Land of banyan trees and Wild Country Safari,
Barracudas and snorkeling,
Old friends and relatives,
And most of all, the land of Freedom.
Freedom from chores, freedom from ritual family fights.
Land of fresh-squeezed orange juice, and pale, white-hot sand.

I remember the summer I had the mumps, and missed the beach.
The summer I tried to walk home from the beach,
And found that walking takes a lot longer than driving.
The summer I got stung by a man-of-war.
Bahia Honda, and its yards of tiny, perfect, spiral seashells.
Lonely train whistles carried long distances in the late summer night.

I don’t go back, because I know you never can,
Not without destroying the mystical wonder
Of innocent child’s-eye memories.
Besides, they are all here now, buried in Resurrection Cemetery-
My grandparents, my father, my uncles

Even the palm trees are long gone now,
Their majestic, gently-swaying fronds
Forever silenced by life’s inevitable last call.

But sometimes,
Here in Waldorf,
When the cool air sinks over my windowsill
And a lone, long train whistle blows,
For a moment,
Just a moment,
I am there,
In Florida.
Written by my Mommy

This one was pretty touching, but it brings up mixed feelings if I'm being totally honest. I definitely relate to message about the found childhood memories, but I've got a lot of painful memories in the land of sunshine and citrus. Still, a beautiful message about holding on to good days gone by.

Thanks for pretty palm trees and fond memories Mommy! Cya next week!