Why is the plumeria our symbol? The main reason is, we love it! Plumeria are beautiful flowers, and to us each color seems to have a different scent. We love Hawai’i, and have visited there several times. When you step off a plane at night (it always seems the planes from the mainland land at night, there) the floral scent from these flowers–which make up many of the leis, there–is powerful.
Here, in Florida, these flowers flourish. Their only real enemy is a hard freeze; over-watering can be an issue, but the sandy soil here is perfect. You can literally take a cutting, stick it in the dirt, and give it light and water and it will grow. That’s a lot like education: give those children a place to grow, don’t crowd them or over do it, be patient, and wait for them to bloom.
The plumeria is also known as frangipani, and there’s a reference to it in the very first chapter of one of my favorite novels of all time, Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon. If you’ve never read it, do yourself a favor! Pick up a copy this summer. It’s a post-nuclear war novel from the late 1950’s which takes place in central Florida; the town is fictional but the writing so exceptional any Floridian can see it. And, many of the places we know and love appear in the book; New Smyrna, Salt Springs, the St. Johns, even Pinecastle! Read it, and keep an eye out for Anthony, who likes to hide in the frangipani.