In the winter, when my mom was a kid growing up in Los Angeles, sometimes she'd take the train up to the snow in the morning and go sledding. Then she'd head back into the city around lunch time, hopping off the train at one stop to pick some oranges from the trees along the tracks. She'd take the train out to the beach and there were days when she'd go swimming. Other days, it might be just a little too cold for that, but she'd sit, pushing her bare feet through the sand, watching the waves, eventually the sunset.
She'd do all that, well, just because she could.
You can't do that by train anymore, but you can still do it by car. Easily. There are some very good reasons why California was the primary destination of internal migration in the U.S. for more than a hundred years. And why it has been the primary destination for overseas immigrants, from all over the world, for the past 20 or so years.
People often ask me if I miss living in Asia. And I do. There is something about the perspective you get of the rest of the world, and of the U.S. from outside the U.S. that is very seductive. There are a whole host of other things about life as an expatriate that are also very seductive.
But for just plain variety, diversity, depth and breadth of culture and the arts and food and nearly everything else, I think I could make a pretty good case for the Greater Los Angeles Area being the greatest place on the planet.
Not to rub it in, but today is March 1, 2010. It is 70 degrees outside. There is plenty of snow on the mountains about an hour to 1-1/2 hours away. The sky is sunny and blue and if you're not reliant on government funding or a good job for what you do, well, the living is easy. (The State is essentially broke. Un- and under- employment is horrifying.)
And no matter what, I'm not going to starve. Here's what I picked from my backyard this afternoon:Standard, Key and Thai limes (and Thai lime leaves which are very useful), Mandarin and Naval oranges (there's a third type as well, but it looks like it needs another week or two to ripen), Standard and Meyer lemons, Chilies pequin, rosemary, mint and flat leaf parsley.
Okay, so there's no protein. For that I might have to shoot a raccoon or trap a squirrel or something. One of my neighbors has chickens, and turkeys for that matter. But Sunset Boulevard's only a ten minute walk down the hill and there's a great Cuban restaurant with garlicky roast pork.
Yep, it's the good life in Sunny Southern Cal, even when we're broke.