On Solo Travel and French Kissing

Sure, solo travel has its risks. Getting mugged, beat up, getting lost, feeling lonely, doing something stupid you wouldn’t have done if someone was there to talk you out of it are all possibilities.   But think of the benefits. On the benefits list I would include again getting lost and doing something stupid you wouldn’t have done if someone was there to talk you out of it, because define “stupid”. One may define a situation of swerving the car off to the side of the road to jump out to chase a moose into the woods for a photo as stupid. In my defense, I grew up in So Cal where wildlife safety was not a topic beyond rattle snakes. Moose etiquette was not in the curriculum so it was not until showing off pics of a moose blurred between trees that the sharp inhales and wide eyes clued me in that moose trampling is a thing.  How about a photo shoot of a grizzly about twenty feet away napping soundly? Truly, I don’t know what woke him up in the second half of the photos but they look gre

Nature’s Jelly Beans

The grapes in our backyard grew wild, trellised up an old, rusty clothesline. The summertime treat was made to last. My little sister and I would trek out to our big backyard with the old horse berry tree with the rotted out wood seat in the branches, a giant purple-flowering jacaranda tree and a secret mini-grove enclosed by hanging ivy hiding the ruins of a chicken coop out of commission for decades. This escape to explore was fortunate to have. We lived in a neighborhood that was not ok to explore with or without supervision. 

Those green sour grapes were nature’s jelly beans and we would pick plastic store bags full of them. We’d eat enough to be sick then freeze the rest. Candy wasn’t a luxury allowed in our house. It was both a naughty sweet and it cost money, so we picked our clothesline candy and stored it ourselves.

These are childhood memories worth repeating, so my 5-year-old and I are on a mission. We are going to find some established grape vines to plant and trellis in our backyard along a back wall behind the pool. Kit Kat is growing up a bit differently than me and my sister. She lives in a quiet, nice neighborhood in San Jose, California and not the gang-infested LA suburb, La Puente. There are no financial barriers to store-bought jelly beans for her. And, I unintentionally nicknamed her after candy so that may point to how childhood deprivation came out subconsciously. 

After a brief web search of locations that sell grape vines nearby, Kit Kat and I are off to the true farmer’s source, Lowe’s garden section. Green sour grapes are our goal and we are confident of success. I can taste them already. Nostalgia and revertigo are making my mouth water. 

Kit Kat immediately runs to all forms of flowering plants completely forgetting our target but I am undeterred. I head straight to where my uncertain garden employee guide has pointed. Hmmm, this is the fruit tree section. Perhaps my guide was confused about what type of plant a grape grows on. While I dig past apple trees and into the climbing vines, Kit Kat has made a discovery. “Mommy, mommy!” It sounds like a happy call and not an emergency so I absentmindedly acknowledge then hear, “I found the one we need!”

The internet lies. My search in this store is fruitless, no pun intended (or was it?), so I’ll check out her find. Kit Kat is happily spinning among rows and rows of tightly packed citrus trees. There is a happy smell to citrus. It’s nearly as strong as the soul-warming smell of rosemary when you brush up against it. You have to go back and rub your hands through it to get the full oils on your skin to inhale. She’s sold me. 

We’ll have to narrow down. Which type of citrus? We look through some options of oranges and tangelos. But, wait, there it is. The only tree of about a hundred already covered in blossoms so early in the season. A lime tree. Limes are an essential ingredient in margaritas. Done. 

Now the real work. This is a well-established tree, not a light little potted one. I’ll guesstimate fifty pounds to lift from the floor into the cart. At 5’2” that distance requires lifting this to about my forehead to get this whole pot over the edge of the cart. First try: fail. Second try: success! Now into and out of the car. Even a 4Runner can’t hold a six foot tall tree upright so after the deadlift, on its side it goes. Coming out of the car should be a bit easier but, alas, pain and blood ensue. This beauty has bite! Citrus trees can be thorny but this one is a champ. It will sit in the front yard waiting for my husband to do the rest of the work. 

Those sour green grapes growing untended and unwatered surrounded by tall browned grass, picked in the heat of summer, are still on my mind. We won’t be planting my childhood memories in that space after all but a tangy 2020 Willamette Valley Chardonnay sipped while looking out over our backyard will do for now. Kit Kat will make her own childhood memories where limeade will perhaps play a starring role. Time will tell. 


  1. Fun! She can learn to make us margaritas starting early! Lol

  2. Truly the blog post of all time

  3. Being transported to your childhood was such a treat. Your writing is captivating. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Beautiful writing ♥️

  5. The lime tree will be lovely and so fragrant! I had a Meyer lemon in SF. Loved it!
    I also grew a California “wild” grape hybrid called Rogers Red. Makes seedy but tasty black grapes, beautiful foliage. I’ve sent you more info on Vitis californica by DM in case you want to pursue it.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

On Solo Travel and French Kissing