Spring in Montebello

March 22, 2011

OK, people talk about sunsets on Maui and watching the sunrise over the rim of the Grand Canyon…but for me, there’s no place like Montebello, California.

Especially around this time of year.

Around now at my grandmother’s house, the sidewalks are laced with purple jacaronda petals that fall from the giant trees that line her street. I also enjoy the fog that rolls into the San Gabriel Valley and seems to settle serenely in my grandmother’s backyard every morning. The air is a little different there…and it certainly feels a world apart from the busy freeways that take you to downtown LA just a few miles away.

Grandma’s backyard is hallowed ground. We’ve mentioned the Family Sago Tree that stands guard in her patio…the site of many gatherings, BBQs and my parents’ wedding reception (I wasn’t there…but I saw the pics and it looks like it was quite a party).

There are many stories that live in every part of her yard. The tangerine tree that explodes with fruit every year (I heard a rumor that my grandfather transplanted the tree from a grove that had been razed in Anaheim….or Orange County?).  There’s the prehistoric-sized birds of paradise that have been the background for countless games of tag and wrestling matches….stone chairs built into a planter made of lava rocks that I was once small enough to sit in, comfortably; and there’s this crazy shrub/bush that I have never seen anyplace else on the planet – it becomes covered with big red flowers perched upon extended limbs at Christmas.

The last time I spoke to my grandmother, she mentioned how well her hydrangeas are doing this year…she calls them hortencias. I had originally given her the plant for Mother’s Day one year. Her gardener planted it in front of the “big window” that faces the driveway, where it’s thrived for over a decade.

It’s been a few years since I have been back to Montebello, but it makes me happy to know that I have contributed something to the landscape of my grandmother’s pink house near the park. It’s a special place.

Many thanks to my Auntie Lydia, the photographer. Hopefully she will send another pic when this bad-boy blooms in the summer.