A Florida Heart Grows Fonder
Orlando Magazine|February 2018

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, an ex-Orlandoan dedicates a love letter to a special someone —the city of her youth.

J. Charlotte Jarrett

GROWING UP AS an Orlando native, I was constantly spoiled by the simple luxuries of life in the City Beautiful. While other kids across the country were stuck indoors all winter, I basked in sunny December days, perfect for playing barefoot in the cool grass. I spent my childhood years in the early ’90s eating real ice cream on bike rides home from Twistee Treat, and astronaut ice cream on field trips to Cape Canaveral. My first job wasn’t shoveling snow from a neighbor’s driveway, but mucking stalls in exchange for free horseback rides — which I took often through the then-bountiful orange groves of Gotha and MetroWest.

Even the more challenging aspects of life in a tropical climate were fun, thanks to that signature Florida magic. One of my fondest childhood memories is of playing cards by candlelight with my family while the winds of a hurricane howled at the door. And though there were thunderstorms daily, when the rain passed, the world outside seemed clean and new, more inviting than before.

Little did I know then what gifts these moments were — didn’t all children spend long afternoons on horseback, sucking the juice from an orange plucked fresh from the branch?

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