There was a packing house at one time. I still recall the big white wood building, similar to a barn. I don’t recall when they tore it down. But I remember it was near the railroad tracks and still recall the oranges being cut in half and bleeding.
To this day, I can’t resist a blood orange when I see them on sale. Of course, they are never as good as the ones form my childhood. Somehow with all the pesticides and genetic modifications and the weather changes, the size, colors, origin and tastes are not the same.
It was not till recently that I started to appreciate
tomatoes which my mom told me were so delicious in her youth you could eat them like an apple. Living in France has changes my mind on some of these things, because they have different laws about the chemicals used and as a result often you taste a difference.
There was an Orange grove at the end of the street where I grew up. We didn’t spend much inside but lingered on the edges. Like in To Kill a Mockingbird, there is always a Boo Radley lurking in the cottage of our youthful imaginations, were you didn’t go. Ours was “the little old lady” supposedly she was hunch backed, but I don’t think I ever saw her. There was a water well on the corner and it served as the local bus stop and a make shift table for the random days of summer lemonade stands.
One Border of the grove was planted in a long line of tall eucalyptus trees that served as a wind break to keep the oranges protected to bake in the juices and make a better product. I still smell the eucalyptus in the air and remember those days as a kid. We had miles and miles of fields, produce and trees growing the counties namesake fruit before the land became too valuable and houses took over.
On the other side of the grove was a line of other fruit trees including pomegranates. We used to pick them and throw them onto the road to crack them open. Spending the better part of the afternoon picking the seeds out of the wax paper like folds and staining our fingers before super.
We were free in those days with no concern about strangers taking us, and we stayed out until the lights came on. That’s was the cue to go home. Unless of course it was summer and the sun stayed up later than us. Then we needed to be extra good or bed time would be determined by how annoying we were to our mom.
I would spend all day in the pool and practice how fast to get out if a shark came up thru the drain. My fingers would prune up and my mom would send my sisters out to see if I was still alive. My parents moved us to my childhood home when I was 6 months old and I was immediately put into a baby swim class. Their fear was I would fall in and drown and as a result I was swimming before I could walk. Literally being a water baby made me miss the ocean so much in college that I immediately moved next to it after graduation.
I’m close to a river now and It almost satisfies that need to be in or near water, but isn’t the same. My poor parents that thought they were giving us a better life instead they tortured me with the gifts of childhood I can’t fulfill as an adult. I find plenty of other pleasures, but the sea is missed and so are those oranges.
I remember the days of Yom Kippur and it was always a Santa Ana Wind condition making temple a heaven with the air conditioning we could stand over and make our skirts blow up like Marilyn Monroe. Of course, we were too anxious to run around then to stay in and pray, and we would bake under the sun as we walked down to the liquor store to buy candy while the parents prayed.
Those same Santana Song winds also brought about one of the biggest seasons in our state. California is not like the others states with real Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. We have Sun, Wind, Fire and Mudslides. I still remember seeing the glow of the fires on the ridges at night, and sitting on the roof watching the neighbors with garden hoses wash down the wood shingles.
Those childhood memories are always close at this time of year and I reminisced as I sat in Temple thinking about the past year and year to come. I went to the oldest temple in Paris. I had already been to the Grande synagogue de Paris a couple times and felt like I needed to expand my adventures. Synagogue Nazareth was a beautiful place to spend a Friday night.
Again, I was surprised by the lack of a mixed congregation. The women and men are separated, which I’m learning is very common here despite how religious the temple is. It still felt nice to be there with my peeps even though it was not the same without a sleeping dad next to me. It never ceases to amaze me the history I walk thru daily and I am reminded to appreciate each moment.
I walked over the Seine today and there were swans swimming by the boats that line the river banks and I could see the various structures that date back before the first missions were built in California. When I see a tour group I try to linger on the edge and hear about the amazing tales that happened where I walk and it seems I can never know all the secrets this city hides.
Partially serving my never ceasing curiosity and partially motivated to achieve something, I’m embarking on the dual citizenship route and will be held responsible for facts I didn’t grow up with. Unfortunately, I will not be making California Missions out of sugar cubes, but maybe I’ll figure out something fun to do with the massive numbers of corks I’m accumulating.
I decided to use my study time to my advantage and have been going to the oldest library in Paris. Bibliothèque Mazarine dates back to the 1600’s and although I was sure that Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève was superior to the rest, I have found my new addiction for the next two weeks as I cram for my exams. It is more centrally located and private. The lack of accessibility makes it a very quiet building, but the fact that it is so old makes it a meat locker and the only way I could warm up after leaving was to drink hot cholate.
jacques genin is one of the best Hot Chocolates in Paris. It is more exclusive than Angelina and has a refined elegance that is hard to explain. The Parisians could care less of onion soup, and escargot is for holidays, but the chocolate here is a very serious matter and I as a practicing Parisienne am doing my best to support them. So is Mick Jagger who comes for the mint flavored cholates when in town.
I allowed myself this rare treat, not just because I was freezing and long days of study should be rewarded, but last week I ran my first 10K in over 2 years. Maybe even 3, but it depresses me to pin the exact date down. The Odyssea is a Breast Cancer fundraiser that has over 40,000 runners in the Bois de Vincennes. The park is one of the largest in Paris and hosts everything from a nudist beach to the original velodrome wich was the ending point of the Tour de France.
We started and ended the course on the Hippodrome, a beautiful black racetrack which made for amazing contrast of colors, and for not having been back running in a while, I was proud to go farther and faster than I have in years.
I celebrated by enjoying free museum Sunday and adding two more to my list. Le Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature was a pleasant surprise and makes for a great spot for kids despite the name. It is like the natural history museum with lots of taxidermy, but also houses the most impressive collection of guns I have ever seen. I am not a gun owner and I don’t promote them but as a piece of art, with the engraving and inlay it is not to be unappreciated for the great craftsmanship it offers. It is s mall Museum lending itself well to children and free days.
Time to spare, I also indulged in the Musée national Jean-Jacques Henner to see some of the most beautiful nudes and portraits I have seen since my museum travels began. Again, a smaller museum which made for no line and plenty of seats to enjoy the paintings longer than if I was rushed by selfie stick Asians.
Juan Marcos has found a way to get free classes for the month and I was desperately missing our pool adventures, until he texted he too was missing them, We managed to meet one night at a new pool that actually had a Jacuzzi for us to chat in after. We made a list of the pools we have conquered.
Sadly, there are a couple we cannot go to on the wish list as they cost between $180-$300 being iconic and attached to hotels or other private parties, but our list is now down to the lesser popular and beautiful places allowing us to revisit the ones we came to love. It has been a good adventure and each area it brings us too offers new insight into the city.
Tyler left for Vienna and promises to return often. We have a Thanksgiving planned for one of his trips back. This year having an oven, I plan to host on Sunday before to allow for friends and family to come by. Maeve is busy nesting in her new home in Ireland. The baby is due in 3 weeks and she is already planning to get it’s passport and return to visit us after the holidays. Antonia is enrolled in level B2 for French and sadly lost her dad when she was home in Cypress this summer for a few weeks. Azer is busier than ever in the Accessories master program in school.
My little misfit band of classmates are all progressing in life abroad and in two weeks I’ll take my exam and then wait for results. In the meantime, I was given an interview for a bartending job. Unfortunately, they mentioned they have a young team which was a little insight in the fact that they think I’m old. I don’t think I’ll hear back in a positive way, but it was nice being asked to come in for an interview.
I am too busy with studies right now anyway. Gloria came out of the hospital this week, having had a set back with her lungs. They want her to use the oxygen more, but she is stubborn and we will have to see how she does as the winter approaches. She came out as my mom went in. My mom came out as my Dad went in and I am feeling less guilty about my hot chocolate binge. Seems like a healthy response to the parental stress.
Seems that life has other plans for us all eventually and I’ll do my best not to complain about prefecture appointments and bad interviews and poor language skills. Truth is my level is intermediate now and I’m having real conversations with people besides asking for coffee.
The small island just next to Cite is Ile Saint Louis. Cite is the original Paris, the island you see in the center of the city and this is where the famous ice cream shop Berthillon tempts you on hot days. The seasons are changing and you can tell as the vendors change the chalkboard signs to attract the weathers appropriate treats. Out with Aperol Spritzes of summer and in with the Vin Chaud of winter.
The leaves are changing and the chestnuts are falling. I smell them roasting as I mount the metro stairs and I don’t miss the heat of the Indian summers at home. The late-night pajama trips to Baskin Robbins with my sisters. I’m lucky to have those memories and someday I’ll be lucky to recount these new ones that will become legends in my mind.