At the end of September, I wrapped up a short-term gig with the United States Census Bureau. My official title was enumerator that translates to “door knocker.” Armed with a list of addresses that were missing Census data, knocked on doors (wearing mask and gloves) and completed the census questionnaires using a software program installed on a government issued iPhone. I saw more of the city of Sonoma in six weeks, than I have in two years. It is a town of extremes running the gamut from weatherworn “homesteader homes” to hundred-acre estates sequestered behind elegant cast-iron estates.
Sonoma County is huge: the town of Sonoma is barely 11,000 strong. Basically, it is a farming community with substantial income from the tourist trade. To the right and the left of every road are hillsides covered with vineyards. Between vineyards, pastures filled with sheep, goats, and beef cattle. There are horses as well. Just a mile up the road is a field inhabited by a herd of Clydesdales. All of which are happy to amble over to the fence to cage treats and pose for photos.
‘Late-blooming gardener” is a new hat for me. Over the last months I slowly built a small rock garden. Next to that I gradually installed a miniature water garden which is now the favored spa for several hummingbirds. At a snail’s pace I am assembling a little walled garden planted with succulents that surround a weathered old statue of an angel.
I suppose the national news scene has been another three-ring circus this week. No, not a circus: another grand guignol production.[i] I don’t really know: I turned off the television and focused my attention on small victories, of which I have three.
For the last three years, the old apricot tree in the front yard struggled to produce ten sad apricots. This year it is covered with large golden fruit. Thursday, I picked the first batch of ripe ones: they are soft, juicy and full of flavor. There is nothing better than tree-ripened apricots . (Is it possible to buy a descent apricot from the supermarket?) I suspect I must thank last year’s wildfires for the bounty of fruit. They filled the air with tons of ash that settled into the soil and boosted the nitrogen content.
There’s an African violet in the kitchen window that stubbornly refused to bloom for the past two years. Two days ago, Voila! two deep purple flowers, with a third in in the bud.
Three cheers for The Dollar Store. I bought a case of their small, metal shelving units. About two hours spent with these in the kitchen has doubled the storage space. The kitchen cupboards ARE ORGANIZED, and there is enough shelving left over to conquer the “under sink” storage as well.
[i] Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol – known as the Grand Guignol – was a theatre in the Pigalle district of Paris. From its opening in 1897 until its closing in 1962, it specialised in naturalistic horror shows. Its name is often used as a general term for graphic, amoral horror entertainment, a genre popular from Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre, to today’s splatter films