In the past, whenever I visited L.A., I’d have a hard time adjusting to the frantic pace, smoggy air and traffic. As much as I like seeing my family, I hated how stressful the city made me. But my visit was different this time. Our sabbatical has changed my attitude toward visiting places that I find undesirable, which makes life a lot more enjoyable. As Jim likes to say, “it is what it is,” and I accept that can’t change that. So this time while visiting the region, I decided to try to see more of the positive things about L.A, and find beautiful things about it, like nature.
My parents have an old avocado tree in their yard, which bears fruit in the winter. This season was exceptional, and there was quite a few of those babies left way up high in the tree when we arrived. So Jim and I decided to go after them, and climbed up on the roof to start picking. As we piled up our loot, I was really impressed at this tree’s ability to thrive for so many years, in a small suburban backyard, covered in concrete.
Later in the week, I went to my nieces’ gymkhana horse riding competition, in an arena tucked into the foothills above my parents house. The riding arena had a rustic, woodsy feel, and there were lots of 4-H and FFA types all around –people dressed in casual western attire, looking as if they had just walked off a dusty ranch. As the stench of horse poo got stronger throughout the day, and the mud grew thicker on my boots, I was transported back to rural America. I found it remarkable that this scene could thrive in suburban L.A.
There are other instances when I found myself discovering little glimpses of nature within the chaos; from the chickens and rabbits that my Dad and niece keep in a corner of the yard, to the hummingbirds that hovered around the feeders, and even the lemonade I made from my neighbor’s lemon tree. By remembering to observe and be thankful for these little gifts of nature, I was a lot less stressed out, and had a far better time than usual.