Random musings on the oddities of life
In Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”, Grampa Joad is cock-a-hoop at the prospect of moving west. “Jus’ let me get out to California,” he says, “where I can pick me an orange when I want it.” Unhappily, things didn’t quite work out that way for Grampa Joad, but it’s not such a far-fetched notion.
On my first morning, I stumbled out of our apartment, jet-lagged and blinking in the sunshine, onto a wide tree-lined street dripping with bird-of-paradise flowers and bougainvillea. Since then, and now being a little more awake, I have spotted hummingbirds dashing about in the foliage and yesterday a perky little bird refused to be intimidated as I took a photo of it eating from the fruit of a huge cactus plant. I could even reach out and pick an orange, or even a lemon or grapefruit, if I wanted. They hang from trees in front gardens and at intersections and seem so commonplace that I wonder whether people even bother to pick them when they’re ripe.
From my wanderings around the neighbourhood, this is just an ordinary street, full of colour and scents, although I’m not so keen on the flower that smells like a stag party has just wandered past and relieved themselves in the hedge. Heavens knows who thought that would be a good plant for around here.
It helps that LA is basking in some unseasonal winter weather (78 degrees today) which is encouraging plants to flower and creating some beautiful orange light as the sun goes down each day. But for such a built-up city which is half covered over by freeways, there is a huge amount of greenery, most of which seems to be palm trees.
As I wander back from my very first huevos rancheros at the misleadingly named “French Quarter Cafe”, a car pulls up and the driver starts calling out to me in a husky, come-hither voice. I of course pointedly ignore him until I realise, after a few seconds of hollering, that it’s friend Edgar offering me a lift. Doh, stoopid jet-lag!
Edgar is heading out to Rodeo Drive to pick up a very expensive outfit from Sachs and then deliver it to a very expensive address in Beverly Hills – would I like to join him? And do my best Julia Roberts impression with my credit card? Heck, yes! So off we go, along the boulevards and drives and avenues of the ‘up-scale’ end of Los Angeles. From the Beverly Hills address, we deliver a wedding present to the Beverly Hills Hotel (I’ll stay there next time I’m here – when Edgar has won an Oscar and can afford to pay the bill), take some shabby dress back to Chanel on Rodeo Drive and then pick up a busted iPhone from Malibu Heights to be repaired on Hollywood Boulevard.
LA Lesson Number 2: All those places you hear about in the movies really do exist! I could actually live on a road called Sunset Boulevard or a square called Melrose Place, if I won the Euromillions and then some.
At the end of the day, I’m punch-drunk from all the glamour, or maybe it’s more jet-lag. In any event, I’m just loving La-La Land and I think Grampa Joad would have too.