Morning everyone,

As I write this on a cold and rainy day, I am thinking of Tameka down in Florida, in Sebring, just ten miles from my hometown of Avon Park. I had great plans of popping in after a quick visit with my sister in Daytona. I was so looking forward to the drive across my state of Florida, after of course getting through the terrible traffic surrounding Mouse World. I’d get on Hwy 27, and of course, stop at the first orange stand near Haynes City for fresh juice. I’d be keeping my fingers crossed as I got down near Winter Haven that I’d still see the ranch land with big Brahma bulls grazing and the cows snacking on orange rinds from the concentrate plant down the road. Then I’d drive really really slow coming in to Lake Wales because the scent of oranges from that same plant is so heavenly. Those snowbirds driving behind me can honk all they want, but I’m rolling down my windows, turning off the AC and almost hyperventilating with this bit of heaven.

As I’d get in to my hometown, I’d turn and go down the truck route because both sides of the road will have citrus trees still full of fruit. The temptation is always so strong to pull over and grab a few! I’d drive past our old sweet house and pray that the owners are being as good to it as my parents were. The sweet Episcopal church next door is hopefully being used and maintained as it’s old enough to be on the National Register. But that’s another story.  I’d drive past the lake where I spent so many days swimming and skiing and the park where we had the wonderful gatherings after the annual Halloween parade that marched through town. I’d “cruise the mall” as my mother used to say. Avon Park is built along a mile long mall of trees and plants. It used to be so beautiful, with old oak trees and azaleas, Jacaranda trees and tropical plants for everyone to enjoy. There is even an old bandstand. The Jacaranda hotel is still in business but so many of the buildings are shuttered and closed. The hotel used to be filled each winter with northern folks wanting to escape the snow and enjoy the balmy winter. In my mind, I still see the vital town of yesteryear.  The 2 hardware stores, the 5 & Dime, the Jingle Belle shop, and the drugstore that had the best chocolate sodas and french fries ever.

I always take the back road to Sebring. Meka won’t get to see that, but I love seeing all the groves still filled with trees and passing landmarks that filled my life as a child. I’d make a quick turn to drive past homes of childhood friends around Lake Lotela, and remember all the wonderful times we had riding horses bareback through the fields and groves and even taking them into the lake for a dip. We swam across that lake more than once. The picnics at the old club, torn down now, are way back in my memory bank. I remember Mother’s deviled eggs and ham sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper. Every time I bake a ham, I think of the taste of those sandwiches and pray that maybe this time mine will taste the same.

Sebring is a lovely little town built around a circle which is filled with trees and flowers. So pretty. Sebring was definitely part of my stomping grounds. Our high schools were fierce rivals and all through middle school, Mother would drive a few of us to dancing school. When I left for college in NC,  some of my clothes came from a cute shop on the corner. I loved my Villager blouses but arriving at college, the cool thing was McMullen blouses. I didn’t care, I can still see my white with green striped shirt with round collar and cap sleeves just as clearly as when I wore it with the little circle pin my folks gave to me. Joe Cool I was not in my skinny jeans, squaw boots and 95 pound very straight and flat figure!

Meka won’t get to see the race track where we spent so many happy spring days watching Sterling Moss race madly around the track. We were always more interested watching what was going on in the pits and getting a pit pass was a coveted thing indeed!

And if any of you have read my previous blogs, you’ll know one of my favorite places ever is just a mere 10 miles west of where Meka is training. Highlands Hammock is a state park where you can actually experience what life was like before man came in to “civilize” the territory. Jan has seen it’s wonders and it’s something that needs to be on your bucket list if you’re ever down that way. If you’re lucky enough to be there near sundown, you might catch sight of a herd of deer, or even a bear and if you’ve been extra good this year, a panther may silently slip by you in the dusk.

So no, I didn’t make it as planned and I won’t be catching the scents of my home state, but a new one is drifting into the house every time my DH opens the back door. He got a smoker for Christmas and today he’s been up since the crack of dawn smoking a piece of pork. Yes, the scent of barbecue is mighty fine too, bringing back memories of my Father cooking ribs surrounded with good friends. I loved sitting near and listening to them tell stories of growing up in a wilder time in Florida.

There’s something about catching a scent that is so strong in our memory banks that it can bring on a feeling in seconds; one that we might not have thought of for years and years. There’s a reason for this as there is a direct connection from the nose to the brain.  It’s an interesting read.

And just in case I need the smell of Florida, a box of honeybells is winding its way here in a few days! Oh joy! So keep on raining and bring on the snow, I’ve got my scents to keep me warm!

Happy memories everyone, Anne

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11 Responses to Blog: The Scents that Bind

  1. Nathalie says:

    Your blog reads like a short story. Having been to Florida many, many times, I could almost see exactly what you were describing and I could definitely smell the orange blossoms: heavenly is right 🙂

  2. Terry Vachowski says:

    Your blog is like a scratch and sniff! Just love it!

  3. Kaye Rhodes says:

    Anne, your memories make me nostalgic for YOUR hometown! I have been to Sebring when our son raced there, but if we get there again, I’m going to be looking for some of those back roads.

  4. lbisset says:

    The feeling that “you can’t go home again” is very strong as I read your blog. The town I grew up in has changed so much, also. The Masonic Temple where I was a Job’s Daughter and to where I attended my first formal dance, is condemned and falling apart. The library across the street is condemned and about to be torn down. The mortuary where my mother used to sing, is also condemned. The old church where I helped teach Sunday school has been replaced by a newer, more modern church. I do feel sorrow at the dilapidated parts of the town I called home.

  5. Adria Almeida says:

    Wow Anne what a beautiful read. So nice to be able to put into words the memories of your past and have everyone that reads it travel back in time with you and long for the scent. I am from Miami Fl born and raised here I’m 51 years old and my growing up in this city has not been anything like your experience. I have never smelled any Oranges 🙁 LOL!
    I do love my city and our weather is priceless, but the hustle and bustle, the traffic,the conglomeration of people is getting a bit overwhelming. I do smell the Ocean because I live in an waterfront home and I do have beautiful views of the port and Downtown Miami I’m very thankful and blessed for that. I live near my family and that’s the biggest reason that would keep me in the city for many more years versus moving up north to a more quiet place which is a thought for my retirement years. However your story has made me realize and inspired me to travel more in florida and go see places like the one you just wrote about and go smell them oranges lol! because I travel a lot to other states and not enough through the one that I was born in. Thank you for sharing with us beautiful blog.

  6. Veronica Wilson says:

    I also have no sense of smell, and find it magical when reading something like this. If you’re gonna be minus one sense, smell is the easiest to get along without. But I know I’m missing so much. The only time it comes in handy is when a skunk has been around!

  7. Nandini Trehan says:

    Beautiful read Anne!!

  8. Avril Lawson says:

    Thanks Anne for a lovely piece of writing and reminiscing 🙂

  9. says:

    Such a great blog.
    As a person who lost her sense of smell and diminished taste with it at age 9, how I wish I could smell your oranges!
    I don’t remember any smells now. A funny aside, I’m still surprised when guests know what I’m cooking for supper. How do you know, oh right, you smelled it.
    Going off to peel an orange and think of your blog.
    Thanks, Anne

  10. Kathleen Eichler says:

    Ahhhhh YES! I can close my eyes and timetravel with certain smells… Great share Anne. *U* Kathleen

  11. Jan says:

    Great blog, Anne! Isn’t it wonderful how our childhood memories are still so strong in our minds? And I did love Highlands Hammock and we were lucky enough to see a panther cross the road (in the rain) and several bears near the picnic area trash cans. And the gators in the swamp, of course! Thanks for making me feel nostalgic today!

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