Monday, March 21, 2011

Azalea Bloom!

I am privileged to offer a guest post from a very good friend, one who has given me hours of delightful and stimulating company. Knowing that Kathleen writes, I threw out a hint wondering if she might want to scribble up something I could share with readers here. Not too much later I got this engaging story about the joys of life in two small Florida towns.

Hi! My name is Kathleen and B has graciously asked me to write a guest post here on Scriblets. My husband and I also share B’s love of the seashore, especially the small seaside town of New Smyrna Beach. We are not full-time residents, however. We split our retirement between New Smyrna and DeLand. It’s only about thirty-eight miles—a mere forty minute ride between—but the two towns are worlds apart.

DeLand is a lovely, historic, Main Street USA town—home to Stetson University, the Athens Theatre, the Museum of Florida Art, as well as Skydive DeLand, one of the world’s leading skydive centers located at our municipal airport. During WWII, the Navy built the property as a naval airbase, later turning it over to the city. DeLand is also the county seat of Volusia County, Florida with an estimated population in excess of 25,000.

After an exhaustive twenty-year search for just the right spot, we came across this little piece of heaven which we have fondly named Southern Oaks, honoring the hundreds of magnificent Live and Laurel oak trees that adorn the acreage. We have never regretted our move and are still enjoying every inch of it. Right now, Southern Oaks, as well as the entire town of DeLand, is experiencing one of its most beautiful seasons—Azalea bloom! While the ocean and all its majesty is difficult to compete with, Azalea bloom is one of God’s most dramatic exhibitions. It’s brief and magnificent and a must-see.

Azaleas are cold-hardy flowering shrubs rarely found along coastal areas. They especially love shade from oak trees and are not tolerant of salt air or salty well water. They create a dazzling display of springtime color here at Southern Oaks and are one of our main reasons for being in DeLand this week.

Southern Oaks is a 2.5 acre work in progress. There are vegetable and herb gardens to tend; a plentiful array of citrus trees; a small vineyard and a large assortment of flowering shrubs and roses—not to mention a variety of out-buildings constantly demanding with their needs and our wants. It requires a significant amount of planning and energy and real hands-on work to keep it up, but we truly love every minute (well almost every minute). However, aging joints, a dwindling supply of vitality and basic get-up-and-go tend to slow us down more quickly than they once did. It’s then that we close up the house, set the timers to auto, and head to our cozy beach retreat.

And it’s exactly that—a retreat. It’s a sanctuary, a place of beauty, a safe harbor in a busy world, our refuge where we can go to renew ourselves and our well of vitality and energy. We spend our days watching the pelicans swoop and play atop the waves and plan our walks according to tidal whims. There is a timelessness that envelops us and a relaxation that truly soothes aching muscles and calms scattered thoughts. We are truly blessed with the best of both worlds!


  1. Wow, Skydive DeLand? Why didn't I know about that? Sounds like I have someplace else I'd like to visit next time I'm in Fla.
    Beautiful pictures, especially the beach. Picture postcard.
    Enjoy the azaleas.

  2. Aaahh, yes, azaleas abloom all over the South. And judging from the photos, Southern Oaks is ablaze with beauty. How lucky you are to have two such glorious places to rest bodies weary from the upkeep. Obviously you count yourself lucky in the present arrangement of your life that so many of us sought in some form or another. Good post.

  3. A truly delightful guest post by Kathleen. Although we don't have acreage to keep up ( and to enjoy) we have had our share of blooming azaleas in various shades, the blooming rose garden, my colorful impatiens and just last week the profusion of the yellow tobuleh tree. Those gorgeous blossoms last only a week and they are gone, but they are magnificent while blooming and when they fall to the ground it looks like yellow snow. This is really delightful time of the year to live in Central Florida and have a place at the beach, too. (Note: I probably have misspelled toubuleh)


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America