Monday, July 30, 2007

Another World

I have lived in Midwestern cities for more than 35 of my 50+ years, and our 20-something daughters grew up in the Kansas City area. As college approached, both girls chose out-of-state schools. Our 'Arizona daughter' moved to a whole other world of climate and vegetation.

I first saw palm trees in our suburban neighborhood outside of Oakland, California, during elementary school. I loved their whispery voices, when breezes rustled the lush palm fronds. But all too soon, we moved back to a more temperate climate, far from palm fronds and ocean breezes.

Palm trees of all shapes and sizes greeted me, my siblings, and my parents in Orlando, when we attended the grand opening of Disney World. I hungrily drank in images of the tropical greenery and stored them for retrieval during gray Pittsburgh days.

At 10 a.m. on my 21st birthday, I arrived in Ft. Lauderdale from snowbound Ohio, with six friends, anticipating a week of sun and fun. My jaw dropped as we drove along a wide boulevard lined for many blocks by the tallest palms I had ever seen. It remains my most vivid memory of a memorable trip.

Thirty years later, at Arizona State, I found another ‘boulevard’ lined with stories-high palms that rustled in the slightest breeze and bowed before strong winds. This time, they flanked a wide sidewalk that bisected the campus and overshadowed my daughter as she walked to classes. And I envied her, a bit, for living in this tropical paradise.