I was transported, once again, to my girlhood this week several times during a trip to the Lake Wales area. Growing up, I had relatives in Auburndale whom we’d visit on our way to Pensacola, and many of the lakes and sites around them were familiar, though growth has edged out a lot of the old places and groves I remember.
Many times, we’d go through this area in spring, when the orange trees were in bloom. Always around Clermont, where U.S. 27 got really hilly, you could see the trees far and wide, planted in neat rows and bushy to the ground. Orange growers top off the trees with a flat-top cut to allow sun to reach the bottom branches, so the trees are pyramid shaped or at least squat. In spring, they’d be white with blossoms – and the sweet scent of the blossoms so strong for miles, it would leave you with an olfactory memory forever. Now I know why orange blossoms were once a tradition for bridal bouquets.
Citrus trees throughout Central Florida were again in bloom this week, and we encountered groves of them around the Bok Tower and Gardens – our tourist destination.
It was nice – breezy and cool, so we had the windows down – and were hit immediately by the scent of the oranges. Left and right, down row on row, there were orange trees with their dark green leaves covered in the tiny white blooms, while the ripe, full fruits weighted down the branches. The dark green leaves looked lush – it had been a mild winter this year, and some rain had fallen – enough to make this a great crop.
There were field trucks nearby, hauling the huge bins of picked fruit to processing plants, but this was late in the day and the last ones were leaving just as we left Bok Gardens.
We stopped for photos, and to admire all the oranges.
We couldn’t resist, of course, plucking a couple for ourselves. Here are our purloined oranges – all the sweeter because they were illegal.