All California is not the same: Oakland is not Roseville. But citrus & sun are everywhere.

It is 62 degrees. And blindingly sunny. In February. Mid-february no less.

Clearly I am not in Seattle.  I’m in California. I came for shitty purposes (my dad had an initial consult for potential liver transplant,) but now I am spending 2 days in Oakland seeing some friends and resting with a heavy dose of sunshine.

I had a lovely brunch with an amazing person, who will always be kiddo to me.  I met them when they were only 14.  Pre them coming out and subsequently becoming Master of the Queers. Now, 16 years later, the term “kiddo” hardly fits…but it sticks.  I just love them. Profound, authentic, sweet, soulful, engaging, brilliant and cute as a button. Sigh. Cool kiddo all grown up.  For some reason this does not make me feel ancient.

Random aside- I recently found out my vitamin D levels are in the toilet. Duh. I live in Seattle. Seattle-where-the-sun-appears-3-months-a-year.  Vitamin D is important for loads of things- prevention of osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis and breast cancer. Necessary for maintaining healthy weight.  Protection against harmful crap in the environment. I won’t go on & on so let’s just say you need it.  And if you live some places, you don’t get it.

Anyway, the concept of living in California has been a mystery to me for decades.  Why does anyone do it?  I really haven’t gotten it before.  But today, sitting outside drinking a beer in a cool bike-positive café, after watching the barista squeeze a shit-ton of fresh citrus, I get it. Loud & clear.

Do you live in California? Maybe you live in awesome places and the reasons for your California location make sense.  I didn’t live in those places.  I lived in Rocklin/Roseville, California from ’85-’92 (plus a few summers afterwards) and awesome place it is not. Some claims to fame are one of the largest automalls and something like the 10th highest statewide shopping revenue.  It is a haven of all-things-box-stores.  Now, no offense if you live there, it just really (really, really, really) doesn’t work for me(*).  I just don’t like the greater Sacramento area. I find it incredibly limiting & suffocating.  It is a hotbed of conservatism.  I left there to move to Iowa and found it to be far more progressive. So there you go.

(*My folks still live there and I like to visit.  I really like hanging in their home…I just don’t like to venture too far.  I prefer sitting in the backyard, in the sun, and ogling the lemons and bazillion-gagillion birds while pretending drizzle & clouds don’t exist.  Plus , my folks rock! Hi Mom & Dad!)

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah. How easy would it be to eat locally if you lived in California?  I mean really–name an edible that won’t grow here?   Nope, I can’t think of one either.  They get citrus! And avocados!  Predictable tomatoes and peppers!   I get why someone in the middle of, say, North Dakota  can’t eat locally. But in California, you can have it all.  Sigh.

The urban farming and food scene is alive and well.  Check out here, here, here and here to get a whiff of an idea. Oakland is pretty much everything that Rocklin/Roseville is not. So, of course I love it.  It has a vibe that works for me.

And they have sun. And citrus. Swoon.

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16 Responses to All California is not the same: Oakland is not Roseville. But citrus & sun are everywhere.

  1. Memaw Elise says:

    Enjoy it, Meg. I had a similar experience in Florida many years ago. Like why do people live here or visit so much – sunshine, moderate temperatures. Love you, Elise

  2. hejemonster says:

    um, did i tell you i lived in berkeley for 5 years? i’ve told that story a few times, right?

  3. Traveling Mom says:

    We have lived here 26 years and I still don’t consider myself a “Californian!” But…I have to admit that it is quite nice when it it is February and it is in the 60’s and sunny! January, February, and March are the best months. On the other hand, July, August, and September can be horrible! The lemons and oranges are waiting for you to take back to Seattle.

  4. The thing I miss most about the Bay Area were all of the small year round Farmer’s Markets. We have a few year round ones up in Seattle, but a lot of the smaller ones shut down. There’s nothing better than a Sunday morning strolling through the market with hot coffee. Goodness, I miss the Bay. Can’t tell though, can you?

  5. Carbzilla says:

    I probably didn’t tell you that my dad lives in Carmichael. Not something that comes up early in a conversation. He’s gotten more and more conservative over the years, which is frightening. (He actually accused my husband of being Muslim when he grew a beard.) We keep conversations to golf, which is safe (though I know nothing about it and don’t even play).

    PS. He thought Sarah Palin was “terrific.”

  6. Tengrain says:

    Aw, I’m sorry to hear about your dad.

    I was born and raised in Oakland, and now live in San Jose (which has better weather, if you can believe that). I love Seattle, I really do, but I know I could never leave the SF Bay Area for good. It’s not just the gardening, either; we seem to be the last of the Liberals with a an L. It’s a lovely illusion, but I’m glad to be here.

    I don’t mean to diss everywhere else. I just love it here best.



  7. Inder says:

    Haha! You’re in Oak-town! Awesome.

    My mother lives in Bellingham, Washington, and it’s great up there (I love the safe, small-town feeling, something we do NOT have here), except that the sun never, ever shines. I can’t believe how dark and wet it is. And as a born and bred Californian, dark = depressing to me.

    Yeah, we’re pretty spoiled here. It’s no coincidence that Alice Waters, who advocates for a 100-mile diet, lives in the Bay Area, and not in Chicago or Augusta.

    Anyway, you picked a good time to visit. We’ve had a lot of rain this year, believe it or not.

  8. sarahlee says:

    i feel your vitamin d woes; living in northern minnesota where winter is six months long and the sun never shines while the temps drop well below zero, it is hard to get the sun and warmth that we all want and need to be healthy, centered, productive humans. in an effort to help that, i sadly and with some shame, started to go to the tanner. i do ten minutes every week or so, it doesn’t really change the color of my pale winter skin, but it is so warm, it feels like lying on the beach. it’s relaxing and when i come out i feel rejuvenated. i know all the harmful side effects, but feeling like i have returned to the land of the living is worth it for a couple of months. good luck, and i’m sorry to read about the stressful circumstances.


  9. Barbara says:

    Both my sisters belong to the thousands of Minnesotans who move to California as soon as they’re of age. And I do love visiting them. Getting off the plane and experiencing that sunshine feeling – especially if it’s February. Better get outside more for that Vit. D!

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  11. Shae says:

    My own note about Vitamin D: Californian that I am, I had my levels tested and they were terribly low. I started taking a good supplement (3,000 IU per day) and was retested a year later. My levels have doubled and I haven’t been sick with a cold in two years. Yay, Vitamin D!

  12. mamajack says:

    I want to point out (reading this post kinda late) that in the Bay Area we can’t grow lots of things that need either warmer nights or a winter chill to set fruit. For the former, many Solanum family veggies unless you are in a quite warm part of the Bay – so that’s chile peppers, box peppers, eggplant and many tomatoes. For the latter: Cherries, many varieties of apples, and rhubarb. And of course the warmth-loving citruses. Now there *are* varieties that will grow but they just don’t have the same flavor as the classic ones. Just sayin’. (love, a frustrated, grief-stricken, tomato-less San Franciscan).

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