Oh my what a week. Not that I’m surprised. I mean, 2022 has been a ton of crazy from the get go. And now, when we look at the hubbub in the south, we wonder, what has Florida done now? A state notable for its high poverty rate, disastrous infrastructure, and abysmal salaries for teachers and all those we praised as essential workers just 24 months ago. Snowbirds flock there on their measly social security or atrocious pensions to eke out their last days with some sunshine and air conditioning just to avoid income tax, (no blame at all– you have all my best hopes for better days and sunsets). Of course I can’t discredit the extraordinary Florida juicy oranges which fuel my soul during the coldest of months AND the most aquamarine ocean this side of the Mediterranean. But politics? Nope. DeSantis is rude, wrong, and just too arrogant for me, from how he talks to teens to what he says about them. Can you disagree? Eye to eye, can you really?
Is there anything better than the taste and smell of citrus on a cold February morning? One slice in and my whole kitchen is instantly filled with a blend of sweet and sour, melding into a zesty combination that is pure sunshine. I have been fortunate for much of my adult life to have fresh-squeezed at the start of my day. Certainly this is a privileged luxury in my northeast corner in winter. For the last decade of my mother’s life, one of her first tasks when she arrived in Jupiter, Florida, each January, was to order a big box of honey-bell oranges and ruby-red grapefruits straight from the fruit grove to be mailed to us. Despite the constant snowy vista beyond our window, this liquid gold is the certain elixir that keeps us believing that Spring will come, eventually.
Last summer, at my god-mother’s funeral, a cousin asked me if I missed my mother. Without skipping a beat I said of course, but I also added that I feel her inside of me, and in that place I hold her even closer. I hear her laugh coming from my throat, her gestures moving my hand, and her confidence as I stride into any situation. I encounter reminders of my mother in the shade of nail polish I pick out at the salon, reminders as I dive into the salty surf, reminders as I sit with her sister or brother, and certainly whenever talk drifts to the precious old days. She’s gone but she’s everywhere all at once.