Yesterday, I threw together a few words about the fall season. Today, it’s all about winter. Seeing as I was bouncing between my tangerine tree and the neighborhood pumpkin patch, I wasn’t quite sure which to write about first. So when in doubt, I go in chronological order.
Fall, make way for winter (although I’d much prefer to live and write about summer all year long)!
When I moved back to the United States with my family in 1984, I was in awe at the amount of citrus trees my great-grandmother had on her property in Punta Gorda, Florida. My two uncles took turns propping me on their shoulders and encouraging me to reach for the fruit on the tops of the trees. This was incredible! Coming from Italy where I’d stomped barefoot on grapes I’d picked from the vineyard to make into wine, I couldn’t have imagined citrus orchards like the ones here in Florida. In all honesty, I don’t remember ever enjoying alot of oranges or tangerines as a kid in Italy, probably because they were too expensive for us. Yet here, in front of my face, was all the citrus I could possibly want, whenever I wanted.
Sadly, South Florida has fallen victim to urban sprawl. Even the ecological impact of the ever-shrinking natural wonder called the Everglades has had a sore affect on naturally grown citrus crops. The even more condensed version of events: WALT DISNEY WORLD HAPPENED.
We have a few trees of our own right here in the backyard, lush with grapefruits, pears, and tangerines. But the Florida winter is a fickle one, never leading us into the certainty of the mild or harsh temperatures that most other parts of the country come to expect during this time of year. One day it could be 78 degrees, the next day we’re scraping ice off the windshields of our frozen cars. But only after the first of the winter frosts and freezes can it be determined that our tangerines are deemed ripened and ready to enjoy, plucked right from the tree.
It’s one of the few reasons a Florida winter is tolerable.