Monday, May 9, 2011

Spring Has Sprung, The Grass Has Riz.....

   I want to get one thing straight. I am a born and bred city person. My family has lived in San Francisco since the Gold Rush. I grew up there playing kick-the-can among parked cars and riding my bike through city traffic when the only helmets we wore was our helmet sprayed hair.
  When I was 21 I moved to LA to be on the radio, do cartoon voices, commercials, film dubbing, and ultimately became a screenwriter. That was an even bigger city, and my first boss at KMPC had his assistant take me out on the freeway for a cruise the day I arrived.
   "Jane, show her her future public!" he said. Within minutes of the endless loops on raised concrete, I was terrified. This was not a city I could wrap my brain around. For one thing, I couldn't find the city. There were endless cities. But, I coped and thrived and enjoyed living in LA. There is something about mastering a great place, finding its' hidden corners and secret sweet spots that gives one the feeling of power, or maybe it's just delusion. Either way, I learned to drive in LA and navigate without getting lost.
  Then we started spending time in Sonoma. My parents bought a house there and Alan and I followed them. For years we divided our time between the two. Since we are writers and work out of our house, we can do that. A few years ago we decided to move the main base of operations out of LA and up to Sonoma. We are in Los Angeles for business meetings, but Sonoma became home.
  It's always an adjustment moving to a small rural community. For one thing one cannot flip people off in traffic (what there is of it) with impunity. Since one will likely see the flippee several times during the course of the same day, there is plenty of opportunity for revenge and if one is new in town and visiting a new dentist say (it can happen) the flippee might be the one giving the flipper Novocaine. Awkward. Also one learns that the Plaza Ducks have the right of way and when shopping in a boutique one might wind up sharing a dressing room with an errant chicken. Yes, it's happened to me. These are experiences one cannot have in SF or LA.
  Sonoma is the heart of America's Wine Country. We're next county over to that Other Place we will not name (the Voldemort of Wine.) Yes, Napa, we mean you. Sonoma resembles Tuscany in appearance and produce, so if one is cooking Italian or any Mediterranean food, it's a giant shopping basket. If one is cooking Indian cuisine however, it's not so easy. I can't just run out and find bitter melon or curry leaves blocks from my house as in LA. But all of that is forgotten once our Tuesday Night Farmers Market season starts as it did last week.
  On Tuesday evenings in Sonoma from May to October, the whole town turns out to party on The Plaza lawn. Sonomans of all ages gather at the Magic Hour. 
Blankets are spread, folding tables and chairs set up, picnic baskets open, food is served and the wine flows. For those who don't want to bring food, there's plenty of local vendors to provide.
 There's music and dancing.
And shopping for the best local produce our growers and farmers have to offer.
One can sign up and get involved in Civic Activity. Here's the table manned by the guy from Sonoma's Sister Cities Committee.
Our group is usually found every Tuesday evening spread out on a section of lawn. Alan is the resident photographer.
Paula Wolfert gives me advice on what looks good locally.
 Harvey tempts me with donuts.
 Mr. X finds a bug in his berries.
When darkness falls we all gather at Readers Books where Paula is introducing the evenings speaker,
 author, Food Wine and Travel writer David Downie
and his photographer wife Alison Harris. He was speaking and reading from their new book Quiet Corners of Rome.
   It was a lovely finish to a perfect spring evening. Bringing home my basket of produce, I had an overwhelming appreciation for what I've gained by spending most of the year in Sonoma. First, longer days for work. There is more time to get our writing done the less time we spend in a car just doing ordinary errands. Secondly, an amazing sense of community after the anonymity of large cities. I've lived most of my life in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Alan in New York City and LA. This change is good. Finally, even though I can't get fresh turmeric root right around the corner, there are other things I can get. This is what I can do with them.

  Coming up next,  recipes for 2 things to do with peas, one Indian and one not, a spicy salad of Farmers Market Vegetables and, the infamous Vegan Cake In A Jar. Plus can a new Vook teach me how to prepare edible Japanese cuisine? So, if you're in Sonoma on a Tuesday night this summer, drop by and say "Hi!" or, follow along on Twitter @kathygori
Video above courtesy of the Sonoma Patch


  1. That is very cool. I love stuff like that. It is one of the things I love about living where we are.

  2. Love that you love living where you are (that-which-should-not-be-named - haha! It's not easy to find the place that really sings in your heart!

  3. @Janis,
    I showed you show me yours! I'd love to see everybodys' farmers markets!

  4. what a hoot! A beautiful time to live and love living where you are! Megan



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