Something About Spanish Moss
There’s a winter front coming through today. As the wind rustles the awnings on the camper, I glance out the living-room window and become enamored with the Spanish moss blowing back and forth from the many live oak trees that surround our campsite. The tree limbs are laden with the stuff and it brings to mind tall, green, giants with long gray beards. This morning the dew that still clings to the moss is glistening like Christmas tree tinsel and it makes me wonder if that’s where the idea came from. I’ve noticed the moss on all of the walking trails, laying on picnic tables, hanging from electric lines and attached to fence posts. I’m used to it now and don’t give it a lot of thought anymore. But, after a long absence, the Spanish Moss is one of those tell-tale signs that brings a smile to my face knowing we are truly back in the sunshine state. I’ll be intrigued with it and the palm fronds and orange trees for the first few weeks. Then slowly, as I adjust to the landscape and become a part of the scene, it just sort of blends in with everything. But, this morning, I once again take it all in and think about the circle of life and how we learn to adjust to our climate and surroundings.
Most of you probably don’t know this but I was born in Florida. Yep. This girl is a true Floridian born in Orange County, at Winter Garden hospital. As the story goes, the night that I was born, the hospital loss power and my Mama said she was freezing on that cold November night. They quickly moved her and me, in her belly, to a part of the hospital that had a generator. But, apparently, not soon enough because to this day I am very cold-natured and my mama was convinced that this was the reason why. I do want to say that I checked the records for the day that I was born and the low was 60 degrees. But, hey, to a Floridian that’s cold!
We’re camping at Lake Griffin State Park in Fruitland Park (doesn’t the name of the town just make you smile and salivate just a little?!) While we are here we’ve tried to put our arms around Florida’s 2nd largest Live Oak tree which is said to be between 300 and 500 years old and stands sentry in the park. We put our Kayaks in one day and got a daily dose of Vitamin D while paddling around the pristine lake.
We hiked a few miles through pine forests, over boardwalks looking for signs of gators. On one of our last days here we biked the amazing West Orange trail and peddled right in front of the Winter Garden court house and I felt goose bumps as we passed, thinking that my birth record is probably somewhere in there.
But for me one of the best parts about living here for these couple weeks is that it reconnected me to my roots. My cousin lives right down the road and I was able to walk into a field and pick a bag full of grapefruits with her. She took us to her favorite dinning spot in Howie-In-the-Hills. We indulged on sushi in Tavares. She came over and just hung out at our camper for an evening. It felt really good to be neighbors and it was as natural as if we did this all of the time.
The twisted little orange tree that struggles to grow amidst the tall oaks outside of our camper reminds me that I am from here. I was weened on oranges and grapefruits. I learned to walk on sandy roads and built my first fort with my brother out of palm fronds. The big gator that lived in the sandpits by our house was named Big Jim.
I pull a luscious little orange from the branches that are within my reach to add it to our breakfast. I embrace this land of sunshine, citrus and beaches as my birthplace and it feels good to be home….. for a season.