When I first moved to Florida, I thought I'd love it. No more six months of snow. crazy New York drivers where I moved from.. Less expenses, cheaper houses, and that well known Southern hospitality. Palm trees and snorkeling, aqua ocean waters and wearing that new bathing suit I thought I looked so hot in.

When I drove into West Palm Beach, it was January 4th. The temperature was a humid eighty five degrees and we didn't have an air conditioned car. Little feelers of anxiety started that day. We were lucky enough to have friends to stay with until our first apartment came through. Let's just say, I borrowed the neighbors cat to catch the mice that arrived by way of under the refrigerator somehow.

That was something I was not used to, but hey it beats the hell out of a palmetto bug. Monster cockroaches...My  neighbor said that you are only a real Floridian when you can stomp one with your bare foot. I remain a Vermonter at heart, that's home, and I will never stomp one of those four inch nightmares with my bare foot.

No one ever told me how hot it was here. So hot that by the time you get from your front door to your car, you look as if you'd just bathed and forgot to towel dry.

Then I got a look at some of the older people who'd spent so much time tanning to look just like they'd spent their time in paradise, soaking up the sun. They had the wrinkles to prove it. Really bad wrinkles, like that old Indian Dustin Hoffman portrayed in a movie I can't remember the name of. No one warned me that if I waved hello like we did in Vermont. That people would act as if I was a nut. But the thing that bothered me the most was gardening. I loved my vegetable garden up North. I even used to sell my organic, luscious, tomatoes, to a health food store. I figured if most of the tomatoes in winter were grown in Florida. I would have bumper crops. Unfortunately, no matter when I planted, or what I did, they just never flourished for me. Tomatoes from Florida just ain't the same as the ones I used to grow.
I have a yard that is a jungle of Palm trees, Bromiliads, ferns, and all the plants that
used to be in my living room up North. They are just as beautiful, but in a different way.
Could there be nothing I could grow, that would feel like home?

One day I happened upon a local place that grew peach trees. Yeah right I thought,
The guy assured me it would grow. The peaches would be smaller, but they would
come. That was about eight years ago. I tended and watered the plant, talking to it,
watching it grow into a tree, a tree with no peaches.

One day while I was checking for bugs, which are a big problem here, I saw them
above me. I blinked my eyes, maybe I was seeing things? But, there they were, real peaches, small, but there! I picked one it felt ripe, and the juices ran down my chin as I ate the three bite fruit and held a small pit in my hand.

Real peaches! Wow! And that day I felt at home, not as at home as in Vermont, but home nonetheless. Who woulda thought it, that a simple thing like a small fruit could make me get it.Home is were peaches grow. And peaches grow in Florida...



  1. Mary Marvella // August 13, 2014 at 8:24 AM  

    Mary R, this blog spoke to me. Moving to a place unlike what you have always known isn't easy. I made 2 moves as a kid and learned being a new kid wasn't easy.

    Mama had a gardenia bush she moved to every house. That made each house feel more like home.

    I love peaches and tomatoes!

  2. Mona Risk // August 13, 2014 at 4:41 PM  

    I moved to Florida after twenty-five years in Ohio. Let me tell you. It was love at first sight. I never regretted the move and I keep calling Fort Lauderdale "Paradise on Earth."

  3. Beth Trissel // August 13, 2014 at 5:20 PM  

    As a fellow gardener, I love this post.

  4. Barbara Monajem // August 13, 2014 at 6:33 PM  

    LOL. I have lived in Georgia for ages now, and I still don't stomp on palmetto bugs in my bare feet. I've smacked them on the wall with my bare hand, though. ;)

  5. Mary Ricksen // August 13, 2014 at 10:36 PM  

    I will never be able to touch any part of me on a palmetto bug, Barb!

  6. debjulienne // August 14, 2014 at 4:51 PM  

    I love my garden, couldn't do without it...loved the wind chimes in the trees...I must have 20 of them around the yard, love it when the wind kicks up and they start tinkling...

  7. Josie Riviera // August 14, 2014 at 10:52 PM  

    Hurray for your peaches, Mary. My family and I moved from upstate NY to SC almost 20 years ago. Although the weather is beautiful in the winter, the summers are brutally hot.