For all such things were on earth before us, and will survive after us, and it is given to us to join ourselves with them and to be comforted.
--Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Tell me...when you were in school or college, did you read every word of every book assigned? No...I didn't either. The goal then was to get the gist of the piece, (remember the Cliff notes?) pass the test and move on. Oh...how much good stuff I missed! So my goal at this point in my life is to pick up some of these classics and just plain enjoy good writing. They are an education in themselves.
Right now I'm taking a slow walk through that place in Florida called Cross Creek. Every line Rawlings writes about her orange grove makes me - a fifth generation Floridian - feel a kinship with her. Reading this book is like taking a leisurely stroll down an old Florida two-rut lane...breathing the dust that kicks up from the dirt road...inhaling the aroma of the sulfur flow wells...wiping the dirt from a fresh-picked orange on my shirt, tearing the skin off and savoring every sweet, sticky, juicy bite right there in the shade of the orange tree.
I'm sorry I didn't read this book when it was assigned. I kept my copy on my shelf for years, sort of an English class guilt trip. Surely, I always thought, I would get around to reading it someday. When the someday came, I couldn't find it. Apparently, in one of my occasional purges, it got dropped in the give-away box. Which meant only one thing - I had to buy another one. Which is actually not a bad thing because this one has bigger print. Everything has its time.
And speaking of things having their time...my college was just a few miles away from Cross Creek. Many of my friends went there but I always missed those trips. Likely I would not have appreciated it like I will now. My friend and I have vowed to do a day trip and go there soon...to join with these Florida things that others may not understand. But for me, they will be comforting.
I've decided it's one of the luxuries of older years - to set a slower pace and catch up on the things we've missed as we've rushed along our way in our younger days. Smelling the roses, some call it. I think it's smelling those old orange trees and the dust of a dirt road.