i don’t get much out of sightseeing because i’m too easily distracted by surface layers of recent going ons and personalities to mine the historic depths landmarks have to offer. conversely, small fragments of sight and sound will trigger personal and even ancestral memories and i love to follow these trails of beginnings and belonging. buster’s hitching post up at the track is underneath a chestnut tree. today, a busted open shell had me remembering family walks in europe. crispy autumn air, pink woolen coat, my hand in a parent’s firm hand; either for comfort or to urge my lazy legs to keep moving. and, of course, i hadn’t left the house without a hanky in my pocket. those were horse chestnuts in the woods and dad would make up an absurd explanation for the name that we would all believe well into adulthood.
although i am allergic to all nuts, i always appreciate bakeries like crixa and fournee here in berkeley that offer up traditional european desserts with chestnut flour, hazelnuts, and almond crust or pastry cream. i might have to attempt hazelnut cakes from my swiss cooking book for my sister’s birthday next time because it meets her gluten & dairy-free requirements. i am not an emotional eater but i do notice myself stuffing my cheeks like an anxious squirrel when my bank account dwindles. as i ran in circles up at the top, small children of various nationalities, herded by their caretakers, flocked to the water fountain. they chortled and were merry, as children always are around water, and i overheard them discussing ‘habitat’. lower down the hill workmen were chewing up dangerous trees. good job.