Each spring, the world outside our home is invaded. Not by aliens or evil monsters, but they might as well be. This invasion is a thick dusting of yellow pollen which sends innocent victims clamoring for tissues and the safety of the indoors. The simple phrase “in bloom” sends me into a panic. For any seasonal allergy sufferer, there is only one cure – skipping town.While this is not an option for all, Annie P is my current ticket out. With mandatory school attendance still years away, I book a flight south, to my hometown, to paradise.
Since the railroad made its way through Florida at the end of the 19th century, the allure of the healing properties of a tropical climate became one of its main selling points. The social elite from the northern states found places like Palm Beach a respite from the cold weather and a balm for winter ailments. For some, they literally came south on doctor’s orders. Those doctors were no fools. Who doesn’t know the benefits of salt water alone? I consider myself fortunate that, as a child, many a cut and scrape were soothed in the healing waters off Miami’s beaches. Have a cold? No worries. Just take a dip. Or breathe in that dewy air. You’ll feel better in no time.
Annie P and I left home sniffling, sneezing and coughing. To top it off, Annie P had a nasty case of eczema. So we came, gave it the recommended two days necessary for the winds, the sun, the air itself to work its magic. And wouldn’t you know it – by day three the tissues were put away.
As for Annie P, her grandmother’s backyard is a whole new world from the last time she visited. Feeling herself again, eczema clear, our newly walking toddler couldn’t wait to head outside each morning. The flora and fauna of the tropics fascinate and soothe her, just like her mom. Hibiscus and jasmine tempt her to touch them. Birds sing to her from the rooftops. The palm trees, almost whimsical in appearance, elicit giggles from a child who lives surrounded by oak and pine and cherry. Stumbling through her this tropical jungle, I can only describe her demeanor as one of pure delight. The marketing campaign luring people to the Sunshine State all those years ago was spot on. With all it has to offer, South Florida can still soothe the soul.