Hello Summer! Warm Days. Long Nights. The smell of the BBQ. Eating outside. Fingers sticky with watermelon; or an ice cream cone. There are so many things about the hottest of seasons that make memories so fond. Just last night my daughter and I enjoyed the longest day of the year taking a walk in flip-flops, picking blackberries, returning home to enjoy ice cream and slices of stone fruit pie on the back porch. As you look forward to these next couple of months, before Labor Day unofficially draws this time of year to a close, consider any one of the below as a great way to enjoy summertime right here in The Town. I know I will be crossing many of them off my own list, and hope to create lots more memories for the bank.
It seems I am taking a bit of an unplanned hiatus this week. Its hard for me; my schedule didn’t allow for me to get posts lined up in time and my kids chose to be homebodies earlier in the week, despite my attempts at coaxing them out on Oakland adventures that I could share here with you. So I am going to take a bit of time to read a book, enjoy the gorgeous weather, and welcome the impromptu break.
I do have a couple of articles that have gone online this week that I invite you to read, and share if you are so inclined. I have lots planned for the coming few weeks with trips to Oaktown Spice Shop, Schilling Gardens, Flax Art & Design, and much more. Stay Tuned!
In the meantime….
I will see you next week!
Photo Credit: Adrienne Schell
I have begun to remember that I really did use to enjoy history class. Perhaps its why I have recently found enjoyment in the stories of Oakland’s history. I often joke that I did not get the teaching gene that runs through branches of my family; yet maybe a branch of that gene does exist. As I have spent time becoming more aware of names I often see on signs and street posts, Peralta keeps making repeat appearances. A sunny afternoon visit to the Peralta Hacienda Historical Park left me with a stack of brochures and a series of questions, most prominent in my mind being “What will the history books say about you?” The veins of the Peralta family history run much like the creeks of the vast Rancho San Antonio, winding, twisting, and many in number. Their homestead, stretching from the eastern shores of the bay up into the hills, is the birthplace of our town; Oakland’s Momma. While today marks the official 164th birthday of Oakland, the date it was incorporated in 1852, it was the ranchero that brought the diverse culture and community to the land that Oakland now stands upon.
When my host removed the chain and bolt and pushed the doors open, my breath caught. The first words out of my mouth were, “It’s stunning.” Stepping into such a grand, open, and iconically historic space is moving. To stand almost alone within it, listening to someone share its story, one of great historic value to our city, followed by even greater mistreatment and disrespect by its own, is enough to break your heart. The 16th Street station is beautiful, yet in shambles. What I would soon learn is that much of what I was looking at was actually remnants of a movie set. Once I readjusted my vision, I still saw what it could be. With the tremendous light hitting the white marble floors, I turned my mindset to one of hope, hope that someday it will once again become the grand destination it was in its past. So as I share both its history and its present, I chose to blend them together into one tone, a nostalgic twist to remind us of what could once again…be grand.
During my visit to Angel Cakes a few weeks ago, I was drawn to the lovely arrangement of flowers sitting on the coffee table. Rustic and colorful in a mason jar, just as I would do at home, I couldn’t resist taking photos of the mix of pink, orange, and purple blooms. When owner Jen Angel told me that they had come from a local non-profit called WOW Farm, a program teaching Oakland youth about small business management and sustainable gardening, I was intrigued. When I heard the flower farm was located in front of the historic 16th street train station in West Oakland, the appeal of Oakland history coming together with a great cause within the community took hold. I knew I had to learn more. On an overcast Saturday morning just over a week ago, I had the pleasure of spending time with these hardworking teens. As an added bonus, I got to spend some time inside the historic station. Once again, my appreciation for Oakland and its beauty, in the form of a empty shell of what once was and rows of blooms offering hope to its future, grew.
My hike through Oakland’s Dimond Canyon last week put me in a melancholy mood. It was unexpected. Walking the amazing trails of our urban wildlands is one of the things I love and appreciate about Oakland; it’s how I decompress and unwind. Getting over to Dimond Canyon had been on my local bucket list for quite some time; I have not walked the trail along Sausal Creek for as long as I can remember. It had been on my mind since I had heard of a local documentary being screened around town, Trailhead. After a couple of recent trips into the Oakmore neighborhood, crossing over the canyon on the historical Leimert Bridge, I was inspired to move it to the top of my list. It coincided perfectly with a screening of Trailhead I was able to attend last Thursday. So Friday morning, I was able to spend some time exploring the area, and my concern with how it’s being treated arose.
Today is February 26th, there are 3 days left before March arrives. I have spent just about every day this month thinking, researching, and then overthinking how to honor Black History Month. We live in a city of diversity, a city famous for its role in our country’s African American history. As an Oakland native and voice representing things I love about Oakland, I knew Oakland’s critical role in black history was an important topic which I was excited to tackle. However, I struggled with how to do it “correctly”.
There is something nostalgic about a cafe tucked into the back corner of a local market. It feels reminiscent of times when the local general store offered a lunch counter to stop and enjoy a quick bite, or a fountain shop to grab a scoop or two. Grocery shopping used to be less of a chore, but part of a daily routine; taking time to grab ingredients for the evening meal, saying hello to neighbors, stopping for a cup of coffee. So many cultures around the world still treat shopping this way. I think of grocery shopping as a tedious task I try to get through as fast as I can. As our culture sees a shift towards local, sustainable, organic, and small producers, a secondary movement is taking hold, reviving the corner market in an refreshing way. Just across the historic Leimert Bridge in the Oakmore Neighborhood of Oakland, Rocky’s Market is a great example of this shift; and just past the produce aisle, Two Local Girls is a wonderful and inviting addition.