The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia
19 March 2008
My town Wednesday: Riverside, CA
Travis Erwin of One Word, One Rung, One Day has started of series of posts entitled “My Town Monday” and invited others to take part.
Here is my contribution. I usually post on Wednesdays, though, so this is “My town Wednesday.” Being new to California and Riverside both, I’ll probably get some things wrong, and I apologize in advance.
Riverside’s biggest claim to fame is that it's home to the mother navel orange tree, a national landmark. Any time you eat an American-grown Washington navel orange, there’s a good chance it came from a graft from the tree at right, which came to Riverside from Bahia, Brazil, in1873. The mother navel orange tree now lives in a tiny park protected by a tall fence and is still producing oranges. You can view a slide show about the tree at http://ecoport.org/ep?SearchType=slideshowViewSlide&slideshowId=79.
Settlers named the town “Riverside” because it was by the Santa Ana “River.” I use quotation marks because most of the year the river contains no water. Since its founding in the early 1870s, Riverside has grown to be the 61st-largest city in the country and the 14th-largest metropolitan area—pretty impressive stats for a town you’ve probably never heard of!
Riverside is a good place for hiking because it has many hills and a few mountains. At left, for example, is the view from our back yard. We often see hikers and horseback riders on the ridge silhouetted against the skyline. Although the hills are bare most of the year, the winter rains turn them many shades of greens, dotted here and there with the bright oranges and yellows of wildflowers.
Perhaps my biggest surprise after moving here was the winds. Few days are still. Most days are pleasantly breezy, taking the edge off the heat. Then there are the Santa Ana winds. They can gust as hard as a tropical storm and sometimes fuel terrible fires, as they did this past fall.
If Riverside were abandoned, the desert would reclaim it quickly. No rain falls for months at a time, forcing the orange growers and home gardeners alike to rely on irrigation and sprinklers. Cactuses are many and varied, as are xeric wildflowers. Roadrunners graze in our yard, and coyotes visit at night.
I’ll revisit Riverside again in my blog when I’ve had a chance to explore it more.
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Sounds lovely. For me, though, pretty much any natural environment is lovely. I just like being out in the wild.
CHARLES, I have mixed feelings about nature. I love it—as long as I'm clean, dry, and warm. Needless to say, I don't do camping.
Great photos! Mmm Orange trees how lovely!
Great photos, Shauna. Riverside looks lovely.
I'm a fan of California. I much prefer Southern California's climate to Louisiana's--I hate our summer steam-bath heat. I also love your view of the mountains/hills. Being from totally-flat south Louisiana, I'm always fascinated by hilly terrain. If I lived in California, however, I'd miss the greenery of Louisiana.
You and Dave landed in a pretty nice place.
DEBBIE LOU and SPHINX INK, thanks for the compliments on the photos, but I got the first two off the Web, and my husband took the picture of me in the wind. So I can only take credit for the pictures of the cactuses and the back yard view.
What's sad, DEBBIE LOU, is that the orange groves here are being cut down at a furious rate to throw up cookie-cutter houses. Thanks for visiting my blog.
SPHINX INK, I love the scenery too, although it still strikes me as a little alien. I'm looking forward to when we start doing some sightseeing. There are many natural wonders that we can reach on a day trip or a weekend trip.
thanks for the link. Glad to see you join on the My Town fun. I'll include your link in my next installment.
Oh, I love the pictures. You have such a lovely view. Thanks for the interesting Riverside facts. It's so great to see you settling into you new home.
The shot of the cactus blown up is stunning; and the orange tree is similar to the original bramley apple tree over here. Didn't realize it would be quite as dry as that!
Very nice! I lived in in Adelanto up by Victorville for a brief time around 1983-1984. You are right about the wind -- be careful, it's rumored to drive people mad!
That mother orange tree is very cool! Great pics...especially like the one of you in the wind.
FARRAH, it's so different here from anyplace I've ever lived. I can't wait for you and the other critique group ladies to come and see it for yourselves.
JULIE and CARLEEN, I heard the story of the mother orange tree when I was reading up about Riverside before we moved here. I really wanted to see it, and we and my in-laws spent something like an hour and a half wandering about the Citrus State Park looking for it. I had assumed the park was built around the mother orange tree to honor it.
The mother orange tree's park is a tiny scrap of a median at a busy intersection. I've seen the tree from the car several times, but never have taken the time to look for a place to park and then dodge the traffic to get to it on foot. A national landmark deserves better.
JULIE, I've been enjoying taking pictures of cactuses. They are so sculptural and natural at the same time. I find them a challenge to shoot because they need just the right light.
LISA, I hadn't heard that the wind can drive you crazy, although I can imagine it happening if one had to be outside in it for a while. I survived four Chicago winters without going completely mad, so I think I can hold up to the wind.
Hi Shauna! How fun to read about Riverside. I'd heard the story about Brazil + the naval orange tree before, but had totally forgotten about it until reading your post. I'm in San Diego and have posted a couple of My Town Mondays. I'll probably do another one this coming Monday. :)
Welcome to southern California Shauna. I hope you'll explore well beyond Riverside. I'm on the Palos Verdes Peninsula (SW tip of LA County) where the views are fantastic (I took the picture in my banner while out on a morning walk) and the air is relatively clean.
If you come this way, let me know.
I seriously considered moving to California when I came back from Australia, then decided I needed to be in New Orleans for my mom. Great place to be in so many ways. How's the drought/water situation there?
Thanks for dropping by, BARRIE. I'll take a look at your "My Town Monday" posts. I'm interested in learning as much as possible about Southern California so that we can take advantage of what it has to offer.
Thanks, LEON. Wow, you really have great views near you. I may take you up on your offer.
CANDICE, there was talk of the drought when we first came here. But we had an unusually good rainy season, which made up for some of the lack of rain in the past few years. So although the drought remains a problem, it's not uppermost in people's minds right now.
In the late 1990s, when Amtrak was planning to close the Chicago call center, all of us agents were going to have to go to Riverside. I did some reasarch and learned about the navel orange tree. There's a hotel--I believe it's called the Mission--where Dick and Pat Nixon spent their honeymoon. (In spite of that, it's worth visiting.) And it's one of the few cities where Martin Luther King Drive does not go through a black neighborhood.
It's also really close to the San Andreas Fault.
When the Chicago center closed, I went to Philly instead of Riverside, and am now back in the Midwest.
Very interesting post.
STEVE, that hotel is called the Mission Inn. My husband stayed there when he came for his job interview and says it's really nice. We plan to take the tour when we get more settled.
Although it won't be much help if the Big One strikes, we did choose as house as far from the San Andreas fault one can be and still be in Riverside. You may be surprised to learn that the area in Moreno Valley right on top of the fault is being developed as an upscale neighborhood!
What a nice town! Neat idea, too. I may do one at some point soon...
You are right, I never heard of Riverside but it has so much to commend it! It is lovely. Relying on irrigation could be nerve wracking, tho'.
STEVE, it's very different from New Orleans, but we're enjoying it here anyway.
TERRIE, thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you enjoyed the post.
I had no idea about the orange tree, this blog business is educational!!!!
What an incredible view you have!
I have to admit, while I love navel oranges, I had no idea that they had such a history. Very cool.
Wonderful pictures and very interesting information. Thanks for posting it!
LYZZYDEE, JASON, WORDVIXEN, and ANTIWIFE, thanks for visiting. I'm glad you enjoyed learning about Riverside and the mother navel orange. I think it's really cool to live in a place with so much history for oranges. This town was built on oranges in the same way San Francisco was built on gold.
Sorry it's taken me so long to get here. Between mundania & back problems, it's been a grueling couple of weeks!
Thanks so much for sharing your town. I love the mother tree (& your hair blowing in the wind!) Looking forward to more in the future.
LANA, I understand. I've not been visiting all my usual blogs because of being overwhelmed with mundania too. And I've had my share of back problems. I'm glad your back is starting to get better.
I enjoyed learning about your new town, Shauna. I especially love the story of the mother navel orange tree. My family is definitely reaping the benefits of this tree's arrival in America.
My husband's a big fan of the navel orange too, RAE ANN.
Hi Shauna from another Shauna! And another Shauna that lives in your area...nice picture...I have a precious mix citrus tree in my backyard behind a fountain with angels; oh the smell in the spring when all the blooms are fragrant in the midnight air...we have groves all around us and I am watching them disappear in front of me to commerce. What else can they smash in here I wonder?
Oh well, it is a beautiful place, this Southern CA that I am a native of. Maybe you can stop by my site and I'm going to check out your medical page.
Have a great Sunday!
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