Green Christmas

It’s not that I don’t have any fun East Coast memories they are just few and far between. One I clearly remember though is clamming with Jimmy in Connecticut.

Me sitting in an inner tube, connected to him w/ a rope tied around his waist. I held onto a second rope that attached to another inner tube that held a deep, plastic bucket.

It was early, low tide. We pitch-forked into the wet sand and brought up heavy clumps, loaded with juicy clams.

So that was a good East Coast memory.

After having a “White Christmas” for most of my life, December in California took some getting used to. I’d go for walks and pass orange and lemon trees heavy with ripe and shiny fruit. I felt like I was strolling thru a scene on one of those old fruit box labels with names like “California Beauty” or “Gold Coast Brand”.

Instead of snow on the ground, the winter rains turned the dry grassy hills into lush green mounds. I mowed the lawn a week before Christmas, thinking “This sure beats shoveling the driveway.”

I laughed thinking of the shrink I’d met at a party once who said she was booked solid around the holidays, with clients who’d gotten as far away from their East Coast parents as they could, before falling into the ocean.

It was the cold climate I was fleeing, more than the family commitments.

I learned that the winter months were actually some of the best for going to the beach. The fog was usually gone as were as most of the crowds.

Every beach had it’s own personality.

Living in Petaluma, I’d drive down D Street imagining which of the Victorian mansions I’d most like to live in. Anything with a round tower room, surrounded by rose gardens, usually got my vote.

The suburbs slowly faded as the houses grew farther apart, and the view changed to dairy farms, grazing cows and the occasional llama. In the spring, the fields were dotted with tiny white lambs that looked more like adorable stuffed animals, than actual baby sheep.

Other seasons brought different sights and sounds.

A walk along the public pier in Pacifica one cold, windy Sunday in May was brisk but exciting as I passed people hauling up fat, delicious-looking Dungeness crab in nets.

The men there had come for the day. They grilled chicken and sausages on small hibachi’s, while their kids, some not as excited to be there, bundled up in fleece blankets against the cold.

It wasn’t an accident that I’ve only lived on coasts, as I need to be able to get to the ocean sooner rather than later.

There was no turning back once I realized people who lived in California could garden year round!!!! Before long, Christmas lights hung on cactuses and reindeer displays on green front lawns seemed like a fine way to celebrate the season.

My only regret was that I hadn’t moved here years earlier.

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