Davis

After World War II my father took a two-year agricultural course at the Northern Branch of the College of Agriculture, later to become the University of California at Davis. My sister-in-law was a UC Davis professor for a long time and still lives in the town, and our daughter lived there for six years while getting an advanced degree from the school. So it’s a place with which our family has a long history.P1000561 sunflowers crp 2

Now my son-in-law Nate is employed by the university and that branch of the family is the latest to settle in. After living in Maryland for eleven years, just last week Pearl and the children completed their cross-country camping trip along with dog Jack, and returned to California where they had all been born (the humans, that is).

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We’ve been anticipating this event for most of a year, and when school was out and they had set out on their journey, I followed their progress on paper maps with occasional text-message updates from the travelers. As soon as I got the message, “We’re here!” I began to calculate how soon I might make the drive over; I hadn’t seen most of the children for almost a year, since Kate’s wedding.

They arrived Thursday afternoon, and everyone seemed to be welcoming me to come, so two days later I pulled up in front of the house that previously I’d seen only in pictures, and as I got out of the car I caught the smells familiar to my childhood, which are always so comforting to me. Davis is in the Central Valley, where I also grew up, albeit 200+ miles to the south, and the warm air and the earth and fields of fast-growing corn or alfalfa or tomatoes all combine to make for a distinctive environment. P1000533crp

Even though I am back home now where we have that marine influence that makes for a very different climate, it seems I can almost get a whiff of the Valley air by seeing this picture taken from the balcony, looking east toward Sacramento over a plantation of sunflowers. A loaded lemon tree on the right and wisteria encroaching give a hint of how eager the plant life is.

I think I started on that first evening, to help Pearl unpack boxes that the movers had stacked all over the house. In any case, we spent hours on that task during my stay, and certainly didn’t finish it. Often I would unroll a sheaf of large papers that had encased some item, and I’d set the bowl or whatever on the kitchen counter for her to put away; then I would smooth out the paper and eventually add it to the growing stack in the entry. I brought home some of these papers, hoping to reuse them myself for starting fires or to place inDavis June IMG_0078 Maggie front of young children with crayons.

It was amusing to see what was in some of the packages. We took to guessing what was inside, by the shape and the weight. Often the contents of one bundle were more haphazard than could be accounted for, as with a barbeque fork packed with two pencils and a pen; some unbreakables were heavily protected with multiple layers. The most surprising find for me was wrapped up all by itself; a cereal bowl containing two dry Weetabix, covered in plastic wrap.

Their new house has a swimming pool, and the children were swimming every day. A screened patio is right off the pool, where we ate some meals in the style of Sunset Magazine. Monday afternoon I took pictures of Maggie doing water stunts for a while, and was pleased when I got warm enough that my desire to cool off overcame my usual inertia in regard to swimming. I was glad I’d brought my suit.

The pool is kept clean by a saltwater system, so there is not the destructive chlorine to rot one’s swimsuit or destroy hair. Several redwood trees shade one end of the pool and so far this keeps the water cool enough to be refreshing even on 100+° days such as occurred while I was there.

The last evening oIMG_0115moon lg dusk Davisf my stay, Pearl and I took a walk with a longtime friend and former roommate of Pippin, who still lives in the area. She introduced us to one of her favorite routes on the west side of town and we walked and talked for an hour. The light wasn’t good enough for most of my pictures to turn out well; on my next visit I’d like to do that walk in the morning. As it’s less than two hours away, I should be able to accomplish a visit another time or two while it’s still summer.

14 thoughts on “Davis

  1. So nice to have family moving closer after all these years! I hope you enjoy many good visits like this one. 🙂

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  2. Sounds wonderful! So glad they are close to you. Love reading your posts. Thanks for sharing. Love you! N

    Sent from my iPhone

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  3. Your writing has reminded me of the smells of the fields . . . when I was a child our family lived in the Central Valley for a couple of years. I had forgotten those smells. But whenever I buy fresh corn with the husks still on, when I prepare them for dinner, I hold those green husks up to my nose and breath deeply. To me, that scent is the definition of “green” and it evokes pleasant emotions that I can’t quite define. Evidently memories of happy childhood moments that I have otherwise forgotten. I had to laugh at your description of what you found while unpacking some of those items from the move! It’s lovely for you to have that part of your family so close again. A blessing!

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  4. I remember that when you first visited me after we had moved to Shasta County, you commented on the wonderful smell of the dried grasses, and how it reminded you of your childhood. It was a hot day (by my standards) and we were standing on that huge porch our family had at the time, I think. It struck me because as a Bay Area girl, I was having serious troubles adjusting to the triple digit summers. I thought to myself, after considering your comment, that it is a happy sensory experience, to know that smell, and I have used that memory to help me like my climate more. I still miss the morning fog of Los Altos, but I have come to appreciate, at least to some degree, the benefits of a hot, dry climate, thanks to this conversation we had many years ago.

    That swimming pool looks like it’s on Maui!

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  5. What a beautiful place! You’ve captured it in pictures and words.

    I recently watched a TV documentary that talked about salt treatment for pools instead of chlorine. I like that idea.

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  6. Thank you for another sunny virtual excursion -just the thing to read on the UK’s hottest July day for a hundred years (about 90F). Love that picture of the sunflower field, and especially the circle of water captured mid-air!

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  7. How nice to have them so much closer! My favorite view is the sunset with the violet sky.

    For me, “home” will always smell like the North Coast – Redwoods, blackberry leaves, decaying vegetation…

    Dana

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  8. Beautiful! I am so glad your family is moving closer and your pictures are gorgeous. You do such a great job creating vivid images with your words as well.

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  9. I love the smell of home. The smell of West Virginia — of my grandparents’ yard and the damp fescue grass there, is so vivid to me. The smell of baking pine needles is Southern home — camping in the summer. And here, the smell of sea air, even this far inland. I’m so glad you could go to Davis and see a piece of your childhood, and also see your child settle into a new home. The pool pic is wonderful — you caught it at the right second! I’m glad you are so close to them. May you have many restful days there!

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