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I remember the second trip my SO and I made to this Great State of California four and one-half years ago.  Several months earlier, I had been accepted into my doctoral program and we had dedicated four days in which to secure a place for me to live.  We arrived in late spring with a full schedule of pre-arranged appointments thanks to www.craigslist.org. 

I had managed to rent a studio apartment from a soon-to-be classmate’s daughter for our short stay.  We arrived at the apartment building late at night and in the dim light provided by what seemed like a 10-watt bulb, we bumbled our way up the uneven tiled walkway.  Along the way, we kept stepping on gooey blob like things and stumbled over ball like other things.  Luckily that night I was too tired from our travels to worry too much over what exactly we had traipsed through and what the heck might be stuck to the soles of our shoes.    

In the morning I soon discovered that the gooey blob like things were also the ball like other things ~ plums.  Plums.  Some smashed, their dark purple skins and their juice staining the red tiles and grey sidewalk.  The sweet gold flesh no longer edible, smushed to smithereens, and stuck to our shoes.  These plums were everywhere.  Being an avid berry picker of both wild and domestic berries, I was stunned.  No, I was shocked at the waste of it all.  These gorgeous and edible fruit – wasted.    

One must also take into account that the SO and I had just escaped from Alaska’s long long winter where nothing is green or in bloom for a good 5-6 months out of each calendar year.  We had just arrived in the Land of Something Always Green-Flowering-Ripe for the Picking.  In other words, my five senses were exploding with the joy!  Even now, I walk about my neighborhood in a state of wonderment over the lush greenery.  This awe is particularly acute in the winter months as I continue to adjust to the vibrant colors and heady scents of blooming flowers and fruit trees.    

Not only are there plum trees bearing plums, there are trees covered in lemons, limes, avocados, apples, figs, oranges (not too many of these in my neighborhood), and pears.  For the most part, the ripened fruit seems to go to waste on the ground.  I still do not understand this phenomenon.  I thought for a while that perhaps there was a government moratorium of some kind against eating them based on the air pollution or high concentrations of pesticide.  At least the animals (have I mentioned the gargantuan red tufted-eared squirrels?) make use of the abundance. 

I will admit to pilfering, urrr I mean harvesting, a lemon here and there on my walks.  Just yesterday our walk was rewarded with two small but adorable green pears.    So here I am in the midst of a huge metropolis that also masquerades as an orchard.  How lucky am I?

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