The sounds of the city, sifting through trees, settle like dust on the shoulders of the old friends (Simon and Garfunkel, Old Friends)

I never tire of the rolling hills and oaks in California.


One of the reasons I love our isolated place on the Sonoma coast is that it is very peaceful and natural.  With that said, however, one of the guilty pleasures of being in the country is having the chance on rare occasion to escape to the “big city” where by contrast there are real department stores and multiplex movie theaters.

An Orchard Nursery arrangement.


We took the opportunity last week to spend a long weekend in the East Bay where Jerry and I both  lived for many years before moving to the desert in Arizona.  One of my top priorities when I visit this area is to visit the Orchard Nursery in Lafayette.  This nursery is always chock full of beautiful garden dioramas and a  gift shop full of useless but tempting tchotchkes.

So many choices, so little time.


The Orchard Nursery has for years been one of my  “happy places”.  I can remember many a foggy day in Oakland where an escape to sunshine was just a quick drive through the tunnel to the Lafayette/Walnut Creek area.

I do have to admit that Jerry and I looked a bit odd checking into our hotel with flats full of plants that could not be stored in our car over the weekend.  A little ridiculousness I felt was completely acceptable.

Gail and Carol, the terrible twosome.


Our chief reason for the timing of this visit was so that we could see our friends, Carol and Al Reed and Gail and Daryl Traibish.  I worked with Carol at Mervyn’s and Target and with Gail as an outside counsel to Mervyn’s for many years and we love to get together to hash over the dilemmas of aging and other quandaries facing us as we down-size, retire (in Gail’s case) and face other of life’s little crises.

Notwithstanding this very incriminating bottle of Orange Crush being fought over by Al and Daryl, the food was quite wonderful and the company even better.

I am afraid Gail and Daryl, as dedicated urbanites, will soon opt for retirement to a high-rise in Chicago so we savor these visits that may prove geographically more challenging in the future.

Gail’s gourmet spread of crab cakes and stuffed squash.


The only problem with this sort of visit  is that we all try to simultaneously pack a years’ worth of questions and commentary into a four-hour visit.  It never quite works and we are all left exhausted for trying.

The pocket park near our old Hansen Hill neighborhood.


No visit to the old neighborhood is complete for me without my driving by our old house in Dublin and checking out the neighborhood.  This time I also had the time to hike down through the park that ran below our house.

A turkey poult (baby turkey to the rest of you).


Jerry and I had planned to view the new luxury retirement community at Stoneridge in Pleasanton while we were close, but that required an appointment so we opted instead for a drive out to Brentwood.  Brentwood is where Jerry lived before he met me and they now feature  the Trilogy Vineyards, an active adult community like ours at Saddlebrooke.

The entry gate to the Trilogy Vineyards in Brentwood.


We were very impressed with the rolling vineyard setting of this community that will eventually contain about 500 homes.  One model home particularly spoke to us due to its plentiful rooms with three-sided window exposure.  The older I get, and the more houses I have owned, makes me appreciate more how  absolutely critical light and vistas are to  my sense of well-being.

This house had a terrific protected courtyard providing light to many interior areas of the house.


We also had time to drive by Jerry’s old house in Brentwood which looked great with the addition of attractive landscaping.  The downtown Brentwood area was also very impressive.  Since we left California the trees have all grown so big that the town has much more character and less of that raw suburb feel it had when we knew it.  We also noticed the vineyards encroaching on the surrounding farmland areas, but to me that is a far more attractive option than tract housing.

Gotta have that Brentwood corn. The nectarines were delicious too!


Brentwood is world-famous for its sweet white corn and July is prime corn season so of course a farmstand visit had to be on our list of “to-dos”.  It was every bit as good as we remembered.

Sunset over the East Bay Hills.


The entire weekend we both marveled at how much we had forgotten over the eight years of our absence.  We zoomed past several old landmarks and favorite restaurants before we recognized where we were.

The soft pre-dawn air near Livermore, CA.


As I set out on my walk our last morning, I savored the moist, soft air that was a by-product of the Arizona monsoons pushing north.  Of course the blistering temperatures were coming along with the moist air so it was time to leave town and head for the coast.

Like any good European city there are plenty of bikes!

We had an errand to run in Santa Rosa so decided to lunch in Windsor a suburb on its northern side.  It was fun to see how this town had changed too from a dumpy little farm town into a European style village complete with town square and charming shops.

A Windsor street scene.


We enjoyed a lunch at Kin then checked out the independent bookstore and other shops before heading back up the snake trail to home.

Floral artistry in a Windsor shop.


The brief diversion to the city was well worth while but it is time to adjust again to the coastal weather and its vagaries.

Some souls even brave the waters at the Sea Ranch, but they are usually the young, foolish sort.



One thought on “The sounds of the city, sifting through trees, settle like dust on the shoulders of the old friends (Simon and Garfunkel, Old Friends)

  1. bcwheat08 says:

    What a wonderfully apt lyric for the title, and what a great tour complete with introductions. The hermit in me has a hard time visualizing ever leaving the Sea Ranch for more than a few hours. Be well–Bill

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