Sunday, March 29, 2015

Berkeley day --

I'm going to miss waking up to morning views of palm trees and blue skies.

We drove across the Richmond Bay Bridge this morning, from San Rafael to Berkeley.

View across the Bay.

For me, Berkeley is an odd mix of Midwestern and California, with its own unique additions of "only in Berkeley" phenomena -- which I may find odd only because I don't know California well enough. The neighborhoods and sidewalks (broken and uneven concrete pavement with little weeds growing  in the cracks) feel Midwestern; the palm trees and exotic flowers seem California, and the people on the streets seem Berkeley-esque.

The iris could easily be Midwestern.

but not the Birds-of-Paradise.

The squirrel and the lawn could be many places -- Anchorage, the Midwest, California,

but the tiled staircase is most likely California (or someplace Mediterranean).

Spring break, and the Berkeley campus was exceedingly quiet. On a warm Saturday morning, almost hot by Alaska standards, only one student was stretched out taking in the sun.

Agapanthus (Nile Lily) blooming on campus.

A dozen people were swing dancing in front of a closed building,

and over at the theater, two groups were drumming in the shade. They were happy. They made us happy.

Another reason that Berkeley reminds me of the Midwest is that it's a little wild around the edges, "weeds" grow up along edges of sidewalks and buildings. Many of the homes in the area we were walking, near the University, appear to have allowed their lawns to go natural in an effort to save water.

We met friends (Cynthia Wooten Cohen, and Mike Cohen) for lunch at Chez Panisse -- unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of them. And almost none of my pictures of the restaurant turned out either.

The lunch menu for the day.

We had a delightful meal, and a wonderful time recalling the Odyssey coffeehouse that Cynthia and her late husband Bill started in 1968 in Eugene, Oregon; the Country Fair that they started in 1969 (which continues today); and catching up on life in the past forty years.

A loaf of Chez Panisse bread.

A bouquet in the Chez Panisse lobby.

Walking back to the car, we saw more California sights -- a box of citrus fruits set out at a curb for anyone to take.

A profusion of jasmine, wisteria, and honeysuckle, all smelling even more enchanting than it looked.

A squash on a weathered fence post.

A shop with brilliant sundresses for girls.

A market with the three different kinds of Spam on the shelves with other exotic meats.

I felt that it was rude to take photos of the people on the streets. I don't always hesitate, but today's groups -- a mix of homeless, buskers, many students, people who appeared to be retired, a few who looked like tourists, more police and security guards than we expected -- didn't feel approachable.

We met other friends from Eugene for dinner. The restaurant choice was Mission: Heirloom, a block away from Chez Panisse, but a very different approach to food. Mission: Heirloom serves/sells "bulletproof coffee," a wide variety of Paleo-friendly foods,

face cream for women with beef tallow as a major ingredient,

fresh, raw camels' milk ($19.99 a pint; produced in the U.S. A. on Amish farms in the Midwest apparently),

and very few grains (they said that I could drink the decaf coffee that I brought with me as long as it was "gluten-free").

We ate the broccoli-spinach soup, which was tasty,

and the chili chocolate cake which was beautiful and good (but a little dry).

Our friends Franklin and Christina Mason (Franklin and I went to college together, and hung out in Eugene in the late 1960s; he and Jim knew each other from teaching days in Iowa. His wife Christina is a dentist in Clayton east of Berkeley).

Yellow Clivia on Vine Street near Shattuck.

We are nearly at the end of our California sojourn. It has been an exceptional opportunity to catch up with relatives and friends, to make new friends, and to experience the delights of this state. We will be happy to get back to Anchorage, and look forward to our next trip here.

Tomorrow, a last day to wrap up shopping and visiting, to smell jasmine, to see jade plants the size of rose bushes, and to bask in the sunshine.

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