At the northerly end of Florida there is a creek that is otherwise unremarkable except for the peculiar fact that it flows from south to north. Along one particular part of the creek, an old farmhouse with faded green shutters and striped awnings towers off in the distance, beneath a weeping canopy of Spanish moss. Due to its large size and timeworn details, the house has an intriguing presence, not entirely in an eerie manner, but more of a curious nature. It’s the kind of place where a novel or film might be set. Never did I imagine myself living in such a place. And yet, one year ago, after leaving the hustle of Los Angeles behind, I found myself standing quietly under those moss-covered trees, watching the boats go by and twiddling the keys to the house in my hand.
Truth be told, we weren’t looking for something quite so … off the grid. We moved to Florida as a matter of practicality – I had recently given birth to twins (our little boy August and sweet girl Isla) and we wanted to be closer to family. After looking at countless homes in the suburbs that just didn’t have the charm or character we wanted, we stumbled across a listing for a waterfront house that claimed to be in the middle of the city and yet hidden away down a private drive behind a thicket of trees. Of course, off we went to go see it.
As soon as our tires hit the dirt, we knew we’d stumbled onto something special. Farther and farther we drove down the dusty road into the overgrown brush as giant palm leaves and unruly ferns grazed against the sides of the car. When the road curved slightly, we couldn’t help but wonder what lay beyond the bend. It wasn’t at all what we were expecting — suddenly the dense Floridian foliage gave way to a small citrus grove. We rolled down the windows and immediately the sweet scent of oranges and lemons and key limes perfumed the air. I didn’t even have to see the house (although it turned out to be quite lovely with many of its original 1941 details intact). I was sold.
My husband, on the other hand, was filled with many modern-day doubts, such as: Why doesn’t the house show up on Google maps? Can we even get Wi-Fi out here? How will our Amazon packages get delivered? What about pizza delivery? How far up the road do we have to haul the garbage and recyclables? These are legitimate concerns, I must admit, but after 18 years of apartment living in the concrete jungle of Los Angeles, the land, privacy and exquisite Southern charm of the property all seemed worth it. It truly feels like a Key West oasis in the middle of the city. We call it Citrus Creek. It’s by no means perfect. The floors in the house are old and creaky. Many rooms are in desperate need of painting. And the dock always gets flooded at high tide. But life is definitely slower here, simpler, and thanks to all the citrus trees, a little bit sweeter.