Looking at the pictures to find one for my Friday post last week got me thinking about the three months we spent in a rented Craftsman bungalow in Pasadena, California, which sits at the northeastern edge of Los Angeles.
There is of course much to do with a child in that vicinity, and we did lots of it. Among our favorites were Travel Town, a free railroad park where old engines are on display; the Petersen Automotive Museum; the Los Angeles Zoo; and the gardens at the Huntington Library.
But one of the best things about living in Pasadena was that we didn’t really need to go anywhere to enjoy ourselves. After we arrived, I quickly realized why people in Southern California are willing to put up with droughts, mudslides, and the threat that an earthquake will send the entire enterprise sliding into the sea. The weather is utterly addictive.
In fact, there were many small sensory pleasures that filled our days. The lemon tree in our backyard was full of fruit so juicy and plump and fragrant that one was almost tempted to eat them like apples. Flower beds full of rose bushes surrounded the house, and large hibiscus plants climbed up one side. Even the dampest of towels or hair dried almost instantly in the desert air. Our meals were full of piles of the freshest produce I’d ever consumed, bought each week at the Pasadena Farmers’ Market. The roar of the freeway, which was several blocks from our house, sounded like a force of nature that one could almost mistake for the ocean.
But the thing that really reminded me we were in California each time I stepped out the door were the tall palm trees that lined our wide street. I was unembarrassed by how much it thrilled me to live in the shadow of these trees. Often, I lay on the lush grass of our front lawn, kept verdant by sprinklers whose shimmering hiss woke us every other morning at 6 a.m., and stared up a their improbable height while Tommy chatted and pushed trucks around on the front porch. Silhouetted against the brilliant blue sky, their spiky fronds were exotic to me, a reminder of just how far we’d come from home. They left me with little desire to return to a four-season climate.
I do love winter, don’t get me wrong. But this Monday morning I’m thinking about those palm trees and wishing I could lie on that cool grass.