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Missin that Down Home Groove

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

I miss the smell of those tall, thin Florida pines and cypress and scrub.

The sun warmed brown scent of pine needles underfoot on those white sand roads.

Where back property trails became green overgrown tunnels of dappled sunlight, filled with

the adventure of "what if".....and old train trestle boards made soggy bridges through brackish creek water.

One side of Laurel road was sunny and green. It's pastures lined with bright rows of tomatoes and strawberries and watermelons, with a rustic, sunny farm stand to buy produce by the pint box.

The other side held a shadow-dark turn off, that dipped down, and followed an immense grove, arching over the narrow lane, of dense lychee trees, carambola, bananas and citrus. Mom would gently ease the car down the path, all sound and sunlight instantly hushed. It was the closest to a cathedral I'd ever come. 

The family that owned and worked the grove were thin, somber, and blacker than anyone I'd ever seen. Their faces were proud, hardworking, ernest expressions that all seemed like paintings out of time. This family was glorious in all their beautiful, Dorothea Lange character. 

Even the littlest child hung back, and seemed mistrustful of people.

I always wished I could go play with him and show him outside folks weren't so bad. I felt so "other".

They made me nervous and humble and intrigued. 

Mom drove to the weathered, elevated loading dock, and ordered politely from the car window, as they seemed to prefer. A regal patriarch in tattered overalls gingerly handed me our parcels in brown paper bags.

None of us spoke until we were back in the sunlight of Laurel road. It was always this way, but I always loved to see the grove and it's people.

One winter we had a terrible freeze. A lot of orange groves lost a lot.  The freeze wiped them out. Destroyed all those magnificent, ancient trees. And one day, they were just, gone. The grove was razed and now it's a subdivision. I still wonder what happened to them with a pang, and hoped they came out okay.

I miss the quiet morning perfume of damp woods and cold campfires, coffee and butter and bacon. Made even more magical, sometimes,  with the cozy patter of rain.

As the sun got higher and warmed the pool, the day turned to adrenaline spiking scents of suntan lotion, bright pool water and french fries, with a gossamer top note of lip gloss.

Then, as porch lights winked on and the waning light bloomed softly to indigo, the curling smoke of camp fires wafted through pines and around the susurrant drone of cicadas and tree frogs. In Unctious, stereoscopic smell, through the darkened trees, the evening was dappled with roasting meats, or grilling onions, stews and comforting dinner things and roasting marshmallows. 

We'd ride our bikes down the campground paths by moonlight. It was a wonderful surprise to pedal along and get hit with a small blast of campfire smoke, or caramelized onions, or pan fried pork chops, or a cold spot verdant with pine.

And finally, drifting off to sleep with cold smoke scented hair and toasted sugar fingers. The night breeze, softly chiming the chains on the flag pole, pinging out, "all is well".  

January 2014

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