Nostalgia in the Blossoms

It happens every year. The pre-Spring breeze kicks up and with it come plenty of reasons to linger on the back porch where I can be found admiring the intensity of the overhead blue, lulled by the swish and sway of backyard branches, crispy leaves skittering and swirling across the patio all caught up in the hoopla, and enjoying the friendly how-do-you-do’s as the birds return with a familiar and playful chatter that seemed to go missing during even our mild South Florida “Winter”.

But I’ve been lamenting a loss too. This time of year, an integral feature of our former backyard glory is sadly no more. Grapefruit and orange blossoms used to escort an aromatic announcement of Spring through the windows, luring me outside like a cartoon character floating through the air unable to resist a captivating scent. This sense has been sadly denied it’s former joy.

The fragrance of the blossoms rode in sweet as you please on the backyard breeze. The nostalgia-inducing aroma practically turned the calendar page all by itself; the blossoms bloomed like clockwork during Spring break each year, promising a sweet payoff of fruit come Winter. When the kids were young, we drank in that promise and the fragrance, and we took the time to linger under it’s canopy enjoying picnics on blankets, the kids making tents in the grass out of sheets and patio furniture, my young climbers scaling with delight the gnarled and aged citrus branches, which over the course of nearly half a century had grown up as tall as the house and lent a venue for adventure, exploration and monkey-like stunts complete with a few dramatic falls, lots of ant bites and plenty of little kid laughter. We were creating moments and memories that would return on the breeze  years later, stirring fond memories lingering still in the perfume of those blooms, taking us back to that simpler, more carefree time.

Sadly, the State of Florida’s overzealous attempts to stymie what most of us around here believe to have been a jump-the-gun-fear of a non-existant citrus canker outbreak, caused the removal of just about all such trees throughout our community. The pilaging of our yard by the State, whether wise or foolish, left a gaping hole in our formerly lush and fruitful backyard haven and a consuming emptiness where childhood joy, fruitful harvests and shade-producing branches used to provide more than we ever realized at the time. What a loss! That wonderful free fruit (juiciest, sweetest, most peelable oranges ever on our orange tree) and the spring break aroma that set a memorable backdrop for my kids’ childhood and my years as a young parent are the stuff of nostalgia now.

I should have replanted as soon as citrus was available again. I didn’t; never feeling I could part with the cash needed for a larger tree that wouldn’t require precious years to mature. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. The time is gone. The best time to replant would have been five or so years ago, but no use crying over what I didn’t do when I shoulda done it. Now is currently the opportune moment to corral the citrus blossoms’ sweet and sentimental scent once again before I lose too many more seasons of this simple pleasure. I see now that it would be a small price to pay for the magical transforming of the seasons in a South Florida community that sees precious few signs of such.

I’ll let you know when I follow through. Meanwhile, I hope you are fortunate enough to find yourself under the spell of citrus blossom perfume this Spring on the street where you live. If so, enjoy! I do so envy you.

Oh, and don’t forget that your fellow residents will be gathering this evening at 6:30 at town hall for the “double header”. See my Monday, March 5th post for details.