My grandpa lives up the street from The Santa Barbara Company boutique and headquarters and strolls down almost every afternoon for exercise and good conversation. If you've visited us in the afternoon, you've probably encountered him relaxing in the store sharing stories with us. He's sensitive to cold and suffers through even our mildest Santa Barbara winters. I was hardly surprised then when he strolled in a few days ago, plopped down, and happily declared this fall to be the most wonderful he's experienced in his 86 or so years.
And what a marvelous fall it has been!
Pomegranates have become a favorite winter fruit, gracing salads and juice aisles across the country. The name pomegranate comes from Medieval Latin meaning “seeded apple.”
The exotic fruits grow on small shrub-like trees that lose their leaves as the fruit ripens. In fall and winter, you’ll often see the twisted trunk and naked branches dotted with the large ripening fruit. Because they are drought tolerant, they are a popular crop in California and other Mediterranean climates where they thrive.
Persimmons are intriguing and perplexing fall fruits. Their attractive deep orange skin is hard to miss, yet they are often passed over as being too strange. Most common here in Santa Barbara are the Japanese Hachiya (a rounder, more acorn shape) and the Fuyu (with a squat shape and flat bottom). There are two types of persimmons: astringent or non-astringent.
Looking up at the stony face of the Santa Ynez Mountains, one sometimes gets the impression that the mountains are impenetrable. But studying a good map, you see that there are several canyons which provide access, at least into the foothills. They bear such names as Rattlesnake, Sycamore, Cold Springs – narrow canyons each with its own trail and stream which continue to carve out ever- deepening canyons.
The most important of all of them is Mission Canyon with its stream, Mission Creek. Unlike smaller streams, it runs year-round. And rather than hiking up an arduous trail, there’s a road that provides easy access by car.
Look for the signs directing you to the 72-acre Santa Barbara Botanic Garden which is devoted exclusively to the native plants of California.
Cool temperatures are coming and daylight savings is ending in Santa Barbara. Longer nights and the crisp temperatures of fall are slowly replacing the days of summer sunshine that were so full of festivals and celebrations. To be fair, Santa Barbara’s mild climate doesn’t undergo the intensity of East Coast winters, but we have our own quiet version of the seasons. October evenings leave enough sunlight and warmth to eek out the last bit of revelry before dinner.
October arrives subtly in Santa Barbara with the soft golds of our native sycamores (Platanus racemosa). How to describe this tree that most often grows along streams? Eccentric, unsymmetrical, picturesque – all words apply, but we prefer to think of this tree as a species of uncommon beauty.
Figs (from the Ficus family) are a beloved fruit in Santa Barbara and are a rare treat, since their season is short. When picked ripe, the tender skins don’t lend well to travel and so are best eaten no more than a day or two after they are picked. While dried figs are available year-round, they simply don’t compare to the flavor and texture of a fresh one. Perhaps this is why Ancient Greece had laws forbidding the export of the best quality figs.
The Tuesday Farmers Market in the 500 and 600 blocks of State Street is one of our favorite markets in the Santa Barbara area. It is quintessential Santa Barbara—where international students, tourists, families and busy office workers all end up on a Tuesday evening, gathering produce and sampling juicy fresh fruits among the shops and restaurants of downtown.