Saturday, July 3, 2010

30 and counting....on Fresno.

In Fresno, there is a place where you can get homemade popsicles. La Reina de Michoacan They come in all flavors, some of which are tough to convey in English. Mamey and nanche and chongo. Mango-chile-pineapple-cucumber, pistachio, strawberry, cantaloupe, walnut, bright blue bubblegum, and the list goes on. They come in either cream or water and they are that perfect wide flat popsicle shape. $1.50 a piece, although pricing seems to be a somewhat fluid enterprise. We got two dozen for far less than what it should have cost, and when the man behind the counter was unable to identify the flavor of a bright pink, raisin-laced pop he let us see for ourselves for free. (by consensus - Rum Raisin)

As far as weekend plans go, “I’m going to Fresno,” doesn’t exactly draw the envy of strangers.


I answer that my boyfriend’s family lives here. Family seems to be a strong enough justification for willingly heading up the Grapevine for the farmlands of the Central Valley.

What strikes me most about Fresno, is not the desolate downtown or the empty storefronts. Not the lack of nightlife (check out The Olympic Tavern, formerly ‘Club Fred’), not the overwhelming heat, or the seeming lack of culture (there’s a dinner theater, just down the street from The Olympic Tavern). What strikes me is the bounty. Everything you can imagine grows here. Oranges, figs, arugula, almonds, citrus fruits, peaches, tomatoes, squash of every variety, beans, peppers, grapes, olives. Everything. It is a tiny Garden of Eden. You can live and eat and thrive here in a way that I’ve never seen close up. For all of us trying our best at farmer’s markets and fruit stands, Fresno is the Mecca. It’s where everything in our re-usable bags comes from.

I happen to love it here. Maybe, because I didn’t grow up here. Maybe, because getting out of Los Angeles to just about anywhere feels good. Maybe it’s being a part of a family. I love it because it feels self-contained. It offers up everything you need, straight from the ground. God or someone made it this way. Blessed with plenty, blessed with the balance of the earth to make it so.

On a famous bridge over the Delaware River in Trenton, New Jersey, there is a huge sign that reads ‘Trenton Makes, The World Takes’.

It’s tough to reconcile the run-down buildings and the gang violence with the rolling farmland. It’s tougher still to realize that a life here may not yield much in the way of opportunities for a future. Fresno makes, the world takes.

Here, though, you could have things – a garden, a house, a dog. Give up some of the buzz of the city take on the quiet nights and mosquitoes. Settle down and spend time doing what you love, simply because there is nothing else to do.

Plus, there’s popsicles.