Tag Archives: San Mateo

Winter-wet season

It was warm all day today, with occasional rain showers. By the time I got home from work, and Carol and I got out to take a walk, it was ten o’clock. We stepped out on to the front porch. “Let me grab a hat,” said Carol, and went back inside for a moment. “Boy, it got chilly,” I said. “This is the way it should be,” said Carol. I agreed with her. I don’t miss snow, but I do find it disconcerting when it gets too warm in the middle of winter.

The eternal Spring of the Bay area

San Francisco Bay, the land of eternal springtime: there are flowers in bloom all the year:

“San Francisco is built on sand hills, but they are prolific sand hills. They yield a generous vegetation. All the rare flowers which people in ‘the States’ rear with such patient care in parlor flower-pots and green-houses, flourish luxuriantly in the open air there all the year round. Calla lilies, all sorts of geraniums, passion flowers, moss roses — I do not know the names of a tenth part of them. I only know that while New Yorkers are burdened with banks and drifts of snow, Californians are burdened with banks and drifts of flowers, if they only keep their hands off and let them grow.” (Mark Twain, Roughing It)

At the moment here in San Mateo, the rains have just ended, and for most of twelve hours a day the sun shines out of a cloudless sky, and everything is green and beautiful. The acacia trees are covered in thousands of little yellow blossoms cover acacia trees; bright orange California poppies appear along the roadsides; white flowers, purple flowers, red flowers, there are flowers everywhere.

Nor is the beauty only visual; the rich heavy scent of flowers fills the air. I wheeze and find it hard to breathe; our downstairs neighbor sneezes explosively about ten times an hour; our car is covered with a faint yellow film of pollen and I have to wash the windshield twice a day. It is beautiful in this land of eternal springtime, except that I can’t breathe and the pollen in my eyes makes me want to claw them out. I wish we could have a good hard frost and maybe some snow to end this eternal springtime and kill all these damned flowers.


It was warm enough yesterday that we opened most off the windows in the apartment. I spent the afternoon building a planter box for our little balcony, and a raised bed for our small garden. Overhead, the California sky was as blue as it ever gets in midsummer. The breezes were gentle, the air was perfumed with springtime flowers. Intellectually, I believe that the weather is as nice as it is, but since I’m a New Englander to my core there’s a part of me that’s quite sure it will snow again before spring really comes, or a hard frost will come and kill off whatever we plant in the garden.

Crab season

Carol and I both noticed the sign in Trag’s supermarket: cooked and cracked Dungeness crabs at $4.99 a pound; winter is crab season in the Bay area. We asked the man behind the counter how big a crab to get, and he said, “Sounds like you haven’t bought a crab before.” We said we had just moved from the Massachusetts coast. “Oh yeah, lobster and all that,” he said. He picked out a crab, cracked the legs, and wrapped it up for us. We took it home and ate it right away…

Carol had never had Dungeness crab before; I’d only had it once in a restaurant. We ate the whole crab in one sitting. It’s better than lobster, with a lighter, more delicate flavor (and no icky green stuff in the guts that you have to decide whether eat or throw away).

Feast day

Our Lady of Guadalupe is both the Catholic patron saint of all the Americas and a symbol of Mexico; today is her feast day. (She is also beloved of many feminists, who make some interesting interpretations of the aura which is always depicted as surrounding her.) Our downstairs neighbors put a little statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe under the little orange tree that’s between the garage and the house. In between rain showers, I made a photograph of her yesterday afternoon:

No oranges were harmed for this photograph.

Heavy frost in San Mateo

Carol burst into the bathroom when I was taking a shower. “It looks like it snowed!” she said. We went to the door of our second story porch to look out at the white fuzzy stuff on the roofs of nearby houses. It turned out to be a very heavy frost, the result of last night’s below-freezing temperatures and nearly 100% relative humidity. The sun was melting it quickly, so I grabbed a camera and stood just inside the back door, still starkers from the shower, and took a couple of pictures of the last remaining white frozen stuff, with two palm trees in the background.

Happy Thanksgiving

Earlier today, we walked down to San Francisco Bay and saw Black-necked Stilts in the mudflats and the San Mateo Bridge in the distance. We sat around eating Spanish cheese and rice crackers, and Sue and Carol drank some chianti. Sue and Carol went to take a nap, and I walked over to Central Park in San Mateo to walk through the Japanese Garden.

Now I’m back home, about to do the final preparations for the Thanksgiving feast. The turkey is sitting on top of the oven to cool. The butternut squash has almost finished roasting in the oven. The mashed potatoes are cooked, the broccoli is about ready to be cooked. I’m about to set the table, and pretty soon we’ll be eating.

Hope you had a good Thanksgiving!

Waiting for winter

After the rain we had in October, little green plants started springing up in all kinds of places. In front of our house, the ground between the sidewalk and the road turned from barren beaten-down earth to little delicate green plants in the days after the rainstorms. In our front garden, the fennel roots put out fuzzy little green leaves a couple of inches long. Along the railroad tracks, a few green shoots started showing in among the golden brown stalks from last winter’s now-dead plants.

We haven’t had any significant rain since then. Those little green plants have gotten a little larger, but not by much. There they sit, waiting for the next big rain storm so they can grow a little larger.