When the Frost Does Not Delight

It used to be, when I first moved to Florida, I felt a kind of smug satisfaction when the ground hardened and the oranges were ruined. I missed the sharp glitter on the ground more than I missed the snow, because it was a simple reminder. Because it was a reminder I knew I could have here. Displaced, adrift, I looked for familiar things.

A person can learn to adapt to almost anything. A person can make changes, bend, send out green shoots to learn the sun in new lands. Roots can regrow. Transplants do take. I came to believe that home is not where you hang your heart, but in the place where the people you love best gather.

But the people I love best all graduated, and they grew wings and flew on all the winds that the college’s logo described, or else they still attend, but I can’t join them in the café before we go to class in the anthropology lab and read James Deetz together with fresh eyes to discuss texts for the first time.

Home has become the place my cats interrupt me while I turn over the soil. It has become the place where my sunflowers get big and start to smile, smile, smile toward the sun, and the place where my hands never get clean. It has become the pomegranate place, the tomato place, a dooryard filled with onions and basil and sage and okra. An eggplant place, trimmed with a frill of cilantro. Home has become the place where I do work that I value. I suppose that means I have a lot of homes.

The frost has killed my tomatoes. Three nights hovering close to freezing, and the last two made the grass glitter like knives. I said goodbye to my cucumbers. I worry over the mango, the night blooming jasmine. Pomegranates are hardy, but my baby oranges spend the night next to my bed, kept clear of cats.

And near? I watch my neighbors beat their breasts, their prize-winning lilies, their beautiful flowers! Me? It’s a cold year, the start not inauspicious. It was newer at Samhain, but we Pagans don’t really keep count– it’s always this year. The killing frost doesn’t make it any more or less home, these days. It just makes it cold enough for me to contemplate a funeral for the cucumbers.

*1/16/10 edited for typos

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