Yesterday, I went for a visit to see some of my old neighbors from when I lived over in Little Armenia. My old upstairs neighbors just had a baby boy named,Luca. So precious! It was so familiar to park in my old space and walk the same path to the old door, as though it was still my apartment. I missed living there.
After some time with the baby, we went over to see the older Armenian couple, Sarkas and Alice, that live next door. And when I mean next door, I mean directly next door, like almost on top of each other next door. If I opened the lovely french doors that lead out onto the patio I was always most certain to encounter Sarkas, tending to his garden and fig trees. They were just about the nicest, most generous people I have met in LA. They always showered us with figs, kumquats, dandelion greens, tomatoes, Armenian cookies, and homemade yogurt. A invite for Armenian coffee was given at least once a week. I have to admit I didn’t take them up on those visits as much as I wished I would have. Sarkas, once told me that we Americans always kept to ourselves unlike that of the culture he was raised in. He lived in Syria and Lebanon and knows 4 or 5 languages. They moved to LA in the 70’s to give their children a better life. He worked as a refrigerator repair man and his wife a preschool teacher. Their son is now a doctor and their daughter a lawyer. I so much admire their ambition to leave their home and move to a foreign country to raise their children for success…all while maintaining their traditions and culture. I love hearing their stories and they love to tell me how to cook things and what to eat and where to buy it. It is these encounters I love the most and they are the ones that remind me of the beauty of simplicity in life, hard work, and appreciation. Not longing for a new dress or handbag, but cherishing the smallest of things.
Essentially, they have been gardening, canning, curing, and making homemade goodies waaayyy before it was cool or trendy. They wouldn’t even know what trendy was. And they were also doing this in LA, between Hollywood and Sunset Blvd, on a very small plot of land, their front yard. I came home yesterday with a plethora of green goodies. They gave me thyme that looks like rosemary (he said it comes from Lebanon), some greens that taste even more bitter than arugula (also something they brought from Lebanon), two plants of the thyme to start my own in my herb garden, and some dried mint and thyme they made themselves. I felt like I won the lottery. These gifts are precious. They also told me how to make my own yogurt (a future project) and suggested boiling rosemary just until the water changes color for a winter tea! Needless to say, the visit left me feeling happy and inspired. I feel lucky to have lived there and gotten to spend time with some wonderful people. I need to stop by more often!
I am also super anxious to start gardening again…now I have just the incentive!