old adobe

I met Kristine in college twenty years ago in painting class. Of course, after a few years we lost touch. Imagine my surprise when I met her again two years ago and we both had a kid the same age. We started hanging out once in a while and discovered that it is as if no time has past (I love it when that happens!) We also discovered that the best place to meet was the Old Adobe State Park, since it is halfway between our houses. This is an oddly overlooked state park, not just because it is so beautiful but because it is the site of General Vallejo’s adobe home, the first building in the area built by non-Native Americans.  It is also odd because everyone knows about it, yet no one goes there.

This place is quiet. It is eerily authentic with its rustic, spare decor and its cowhides slung across fence rails. You imagine yourself living a really uncomfortable western life there. Adobe Creek, the town’s original water supply, runs innocently past. Maybe it is this overt reminder that life was so hard out here during the adobe’s time that keeps people away. We don’t want to think about life without our comforts and stores, central heat and soft beds. I know I don’t, not really. It wasn’t so long ago out here that life shifted from hunter-gatherer tribes living their own comfortable life off the land to colonization and the strange stoic roots of our modern culture.

And Kristine and I continue to meet here, when we think of it, once in a while. And our kids play in the leaves, and run past the cacti, and on the balconies with ghosts and we talk about our lives, past, present and future, as if we are anywhere.

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secret garden

community garden

kids’ garden at the community garden

entering the garden!

The community garden is one of my favorite places. Three year old Lukas loves to go there too. “Let’s go to the ‘munity garden mama.” he urges throughout the summer, and even in other seasons too. We don’t actually garden there but are still welcome to walk through and enjoy shade and the feeling of abundance. At the urging of one of the gardeners, we have pulled carrots and eaten strawberries out of the kids’ garden (and they were very tasty!) We like to relax a bit there after the chaos of the playground, walking past grand sunflowers, huge explosions of chard, and iridescent blue borage popping up all over the place. Compost piles in various states are up against one wall and sometimes we can hear the splashy sounds of the recreation center poolgoers over the wall as we cuddle on a bench by a mosaic birdbath, smelling tomatoes and fruit in the air and admiring the handiwork of our neighbors. Though quite visible from the park, many people don’t seem to know about this place, making it seem sort-of like a secret garden.