As I write this blog in mid March it is Spring Eve and the weather has been fluctuating wildly in Colorado over the last several weeks. Just a few days ago it was approaching near 80 degrees and just a couple of weeks ago it was in the teens with fresh blanket of snowfall. It was during those frigid days that I took a somewhat impromptu trip to Sacramento, California, and within a matter of hours left the dead of winter and stepped directly into early summer.
I have traveled to California a number of times over the years, including both for business trips and personal visits. I have visited San Diego, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Santa Monica, Monterey, Long Beach and probably a few places I am forgetting. I had traveled through Sacramento on one occasion but had never spent any time there. And on this particular recent trip I spent just shy of 24 hours, however it was just enough to embrace the sunshine, green grass and trees and blooming flowers – which proved to be an almost indescribable breath of fresh air. I can’t remember the last time I jetted off in the dead of winter to embrace summer like weather. I know many people routinely take off each winter to Mexico, the Caribbean or some other tropical locale. Not me. I cannot fully describe the pure joy of going from sub zero, bone chilling temps to a balmy clime and being surrounded by so much greenery and blooming vegetation in an array of gorgeous colors – pure plant heaven.
I stayed with my aunt in Sacramento, whose house I had never visited. When I arrived there at night it was dark, however the first thing I did the next morning was roll up the shade in my bedroom window to find a gorgeous leaf filled tree with lavender flowers. Her front yard was filled with a colorful array of flowers – both in the ground and in pots scattered around the porch – I wish I had taken note of the varieties. The backyard had several HUGE lemon trees, both the traditional yellow variety and Meyer’s greenish lemons – both of which were filled to their branch brims with lemons. I can honestly say I have never been been so up close and personal with such lemon trees in all their glory! Also in my aunt’s back yard were enormous bushes of blooming rosemary and several other herbs, of which I had only seen grown in small pots. We picked them off and took in the aroma and talked about the many ways to use them in a variety of dishes.
In addition to enjoying a little early summer toward the end of winter, I spent some one-on-one time with my aunt, a first for me, particularly special since she just celebrated her 80th birthday. My aunt has always been an active and energetic person, and she is still 80 years young and an inspiration and aspiration of years to come. She is my mom’s sister, and my maternal grandparents owned a small grocery store in the teeny tiny town of Oberon, N.D., population back in the day of maybe 500ish. My aunt talked about how she was unhappy with small town life growing up in Oberon and how she found escape through reading via a small impromptu library a woman in Oberon set up in the back of Grandpa’s store. My aunt asked me if I remembered that library, which I did not. However, now I do, and it’s just one of those nuggets of information you gain about your family in those kind of visits with family – just the two of you.