Tues. P.S. Hi folks It was nice getting your letter Ethel, one from Shirley today. Well sure like this weather here. Just like mid-July. Try this pic. But it’s good. What do you think Marshall left for home yesterday.
I bet Ethel and Shirley wish they were in Florida, where oranges grow. I know I wish I was in Florida right now – because where I live, where oranges don’t grow but where apples grow – it is rainy and chilly and it’s difficult to act like a Sun Goddess when the rain just keeps falling and my fingertips and toes are cold.
I did live in Florida one winter – some time around the date on the postcard – 1975. I walked then for the first time through the long rows of orange groves in Indian River and glowed almost orangely myself with the rich scent of the orange blossoms and fruit and the deep rich humid fertile soil. It seemed like a nice place for people to live. They would have children and get married and go to church and everything would be so orderly and neat! This is what the rising aromas from those orange trees made me believe as the sun blazed down and a cooler breeze played through it all every once in a rare while.
Then we got back in the car and drove down to the Florida Keys, and that’s where we lived that winter. It seemed there that Hemingway had cast a brush over the place while Faulkner, of course (not wanting to jump right out into clear sight) lurked in the odd corner ready to surprise. There were no orange groves but mangrove tangles reached out with stiff fingers onto the hard flat dirt that represented soil, which grew nothing but stiff little tufts of grass which would almost cut the sole of a bare foot.
There were dark shaded bars with low entrances with battered jukeboxes inside sometimes playing old gloomy songs. There were strange electric noises from generators which sounded like bees buzzing in huge colonies ready to swoop down upon those unaware of their danger, and there was through it all the long endless highway that stretched like a pointing finger from the mainland to Key West. One way, each way, straight. Sun burned roads sided by glittering water and more mangroves, and watered by beer. Old people were everywhere, moving slowly, sadly, with cans of cheap beer in their hands.
There were no oranges, but there was fishing of all sorts – in a boat, from a dock, with a net. There were barracuda and shark and lizard fish and octopus and big game fish and they all had teeth whether they had teeth or not. One of the fish I caught actually bit me. A little ugly fish called a grunt. It grunted at me (because that’s what it does) and bit my finger with its little sharp teeth and the blood dripped out of the hole it made on my finger onto its eye as I held it, trying to get the hook out. Divine vengeance? Perhaps.
This was no orange grove.
Back here now in the place where apples grow, I’m trying to find something I can mark here to point to, something that might have a link to those orange groves where Orange Meringue Pies are made, so sweet and light, so flaky and delightful. I can find some things. It is like apples to oranges, perhaps. But there are some things. I’m going to think of biting into that pie, and I’m going to listen to The Orange Blossom Special by Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith, and remember the smell of orange blossoms on a hot Indian River day and of the very real possibilities that exist everywhere of being a Sun Goddess. Sometimes you just have to look a little harder to find them.