Saturday, January 24, 2009

Strawberry Fields

I live in Plant City, Florida. The Winter Strawberry Capital of the World. Riding along the roads here I spot strawberry fields one after another. Pickers picking in some but mostly, the sun is bearing down on the leaves and sweet red fruit and the smell is intoxicating.

I have a poetry blog as well (I'd Like To Say )and here's what I wrote as I thought about Plant City, Strawberries, and how I got here.

Strawberry Fields Forever

The Winter Strawberry Capital of the world
home of the annual Strawberry Festival
strawberry shortcake sold at corner stands
the smell of the berries warmed under the
Florida sun, fresh from the field, taste
of the sweet juicy pulp on my tongue.

I didn't plan on living here, too country for
this country raised - professed city girl but here
I am, loving it all, looking out across our densely
treed front yard, to the comforting sight of cows
and cattle egrets where the orange trees used to thrive.

Home isn't always where you plan to be
some times you end up in a place that
sings to a rhythm you already have and beckons
to you with outstretched arms when you are gone.

Judy Roney

I often write something about this time of year because the last of the oranges are being picked, and Strawberry season is in full swing, Gasparilla events begin, the weather is beautiful, and it all feels a bit like spring fever in the winter.

The Strawberry Festival begins the end of next month (February 26 through March 8, 2009). The festival is quite a big deal for such a small country town and we do enjoy it. Bill and I have a car lot across from the Strawberry Festival and we rarely do any business the days of the festival and that's ok too. We close up the lot (I don't work there but I meet him) and we walk to the parade. They have a lot of really good country singers that we can see for $10 or $15 dollars if we want assigned seats or for nothing if we just sit in the bleachers. Randy Travis, Taylor Swift, George Jones, Brenda Lee, Jeff Foxworthy, Jessica Sympson, Kellie Pickler, The Gatlin Brothers to name some of the talent this year. We always have the huge strawberry shortcakes that Parkesdale Farms offers, along with their strawberry cookies, cakes, pies, etc. and fresh produce and flowers. They make the best if you have the patience to wait your turn.

The festivities surrounding Gasparilla have begun and the actual invasion of Tampa Bay ( on Feb. 7) by those ghastly pirates. The festivities for that begin this week..parties, parades and events that lead up to the grand event on the 7th. Bill and I have deemed ourselves too old for the raucous events and leave it to the young ones now but its still fun hearing about what is happening and living vicariously through those with good knees and the ability to party hardy. We always took the kids when they were growing up and we have wonderful memories of the past invasions. (We, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, invite you to step lively ‘n’ join us as we once again invade the City of Tampa to share our trinkets ‘n’ treasures – a tradition we’ve honored since 1904.
Our band of marauding buccaneers will be settin’ our sails to descend on the City of Tampa in the wee mornin’ hours of Saturday the 7th of February … and we’ll be looking fer you!
Come celebrate the Gasparilla Invasion as we enter Hillsborough Bay in the tall-masted Jose Gasparilla pirate ship (she’s a beauty), with cannons a-boomin’ and flags unfurled.)

In time with the Strawberry Festival I will have my friends from an online writing group, the Skywriters, here with me. This is the group that put out the two poetry anthologies and they are very good and inspirational writers. We encourage and support each others writings and most are published authors now. Well, including our chapbooks, we all are published. We will have our second annual retreat here and I'm looking forward to that. We will spend about five days working hard on writing but we will have a day before and a day afterwards to look around town and check out the Festival before they are on their way to homes across the states.


Diane T said...

First of all, congrats to you and Bill for coming in third in the Y working out contest! That is excellent at this time of year. It makes perfect sense that attendance is the highest priority! You look great in the picture of yourself in exercise clothes!

I loved your poem about Plant City as well. I can identify with ending up having 'home' in a totally unexpected place.

Have a great rest of weekend!

Victoria said...

Fun entry Judy - all about events in your part of the world about which I know nothing. I looked at the Gasparilla links and that is all new to me and fun. And yes, you look great in your smile and exercise clothes.

Mary said...

I enjoyed reading about the Strawberry Festival and surely can picture how wonderful it must be. Though you didn't plan on living there, it seems that the area fits you! You're right....home is not always where you think it will be.

I envy the fact that weather is ideal for you right won't be ideal for us for quite a while.

Your entire entry was much fun to read. I can see that you truly enjoy this time of year.

Peggy said...

I can hardly wait for the retreat and the extra fun of the Strawberry Festival too. My goodness your area is full of winter celebrations--I guess people like to go to Florida in the winter months.

I love your poem. You are an amazing writer, my friend.

Shanthy said...

You are an awesome writer