Long term residents, going back to the 1940’s and 50’s, who are still alive, talk in the hospital waiting room about California being a Garden of Eden.
” Down that street, ” one says, “: there were acres and acres of orange trees….. ”
” And grapefruits as big as your head, ” another chips in from his chair as he looks out a huge window on the third floor.
” When we were little, ” a gray haired matron with granny glasses says, almost so quiet you can’t hear her, “my little sister and I would walk to an orchard and buy a bag of lemons for home made lemonade. Our mother made it so sweet…..”
The Garden of Eden has been sold, divided into planned communities with covenants.
There are still berry farms scattered inside municipal Los Angeles though, operations that take up a few city blocks,not bulldozed by progress. This strawberry patch is on the street I follow to the University of Irvine Medical Center where Chris is on life support.
I imagine a little Japanese man as this farm’s owner and operator, who opens early and closes late, who uses a hoe to keep furrows clear of weeds, who carefully carries boxes of strawberries out to SUV’s for domestic Goddesses. His grandchildren help him, and,for lunch, he eats rice and fish at the small table back of his stand.
Some people are born to get dirt on their pants, hold soil in the palm of their hand, taste a fresh picked strawberry and let the juice run down their cheeks.
This strawberry patch is grounding me to the Earth today.
My Dad grew strawberries in New Mexico, not so long ago, and we all loved helping him, picking tomato worms off vines, dusting for squash bugs, weeding watering troughs on either side of his fast growing black eyed peas and cucumbers and okra.
It calms me to be in this strawberry field, praying Chris falls on the right side of life or death.
I don’t touch this old man’s strawberries.
I’ll come back when the farm is open and buy one of his baskets.