Sunday, March 13, 2011

In the Golden Afternoon

"Little bread-and-butterflies kiss the tulips,
and the sun is like a toy balloon.
There are get up in the morning glories,
in the golden afternoon.
You can learn a lot of things from the flowers,
for especially in the month of June.
There's a wealth of happiness and romance,
all in the golden afternoon." 
 - from Alice In Wonderland

Our adventures (and my birthday celebration) continued on Saturday, starting early in the morning, when we hit our third farmer's market in two days.  We were on the hunt for the perfect strawberries for a dinner party, but it turns out that the cool weather delayed our regular strawberry season a little.  Fortunately, that doesn't apply to Harry's Berries, the best strawberry farm in Southern California. We found them at the Santa Monica farmer's market, at Arizona and 3rd.

They specialize in a rare variety called gaviota, which are perfect little nuggets of heaven.  We picked up a 3-pack, as well as some mandarin oranges which will make a culinary appearance in tomorrow's entry.

It's peak citrus season at the market.

While there, we discovered the largest leek I've ever seen.

A leek so large one must make reaction faces.

After making our purchases, we moved on to Project Me class at Slimmons.  We usually stay for back-to-back classes on Saturdays, but since my birthday picnic was scheduled for 1:00, we had to ditch out on Richard's Sweat class.  Fortunately, we got plenty of exercise at Descanso Gardens, the lovely botanical park where we were meeting our friends.  We brought our lunch from my favorite gourmet shop, Joan's on Third.  My lunch was a little larger than usual - I had expected I'd top my usual daily 1400 calories (though, it turns out, I only ate at total 195 extra calories, which is not bad considering two meals we didn't prepare ourselves.)  Lunch included:
  • A small black forest ham & brie sandwich with caper mustard and greens
  • 1/4 cup of butter beans with herbs
  • 1/4 cup of roasted beets
  • Three bites of a small lemon tart. I shared some of the rest, and we threw about half of it away.  I didn't feel bad about wasting food - I wanted to enjoy it, but I only needed a taste.
  • 8 ounces of sparkling water with 4 ounces of pineapple juice
Descanso was starting its spring bloom, so although not everything was flowering, much was bright and green.  It was a lovely, breezy afternoon, perfect for perambulation.

Much of the day was spent strolling and participating in shutterbuggery.
Photo courtesy of K. McQueen

There are several different subsections of the park, including Camellia gardens.  I had never seen Camellias before, and I thought the arrangement of their petals was remarkable.

Camellias everywhere!

To my surprise, parts of the lilac garden was in bloom.  In Michigan where I grew up, we only had lilacs during early summer.  I took a deep drink of their perfume, and I was surprised to realize it reminded me not of summer gardens, but of my mother's hospital room.  Sense memory strikes again.

Eau de Bittersweet

I loved the Japanese part of the gardens, which was very peaceful. I may return to do some writing and sketching there. Plus, the cherry blossom festival starts next weekend, and I love me some cherry blossoms.

I also loved these sconces inside a pavillion in the Japanese garden.

The park was varied in landscape - some open, bright areas with flower beds, and some darker, woodsy areas that felt more natural.

The trees were unusually (and pleasantly) gnarly for So Cal.

There were lots of water fixtures - and water, in its many and varied forms, tends to make me happy.

Tom snapped this excellent photo of a mini-waterfall.

The best part of the day, of course, was the time spent with friends.  A lovely adventure, had by all.

Photo courtesy of K. McQueen

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