Purple was by far, the most challenging color out of the eight. Seriously, for a second I was worried I wasn’t going to have enough photos for completion–– or that I was going to be forced to leave everyone with a measly, six instead of nine (what a ripoff that would’ve been!). I can’t say I have much of a personal inclination towards the color purple (clarifying that I mean the literal hue, not the 1985 film starring Whoopi Goldberg). Okay so maybe in truth, that was a nice way of saying purple is in fact, my least favorite part of the rainbow –– but you can still commend me for making a valiant effort to finish a thorough last post to this series. On the other hand, lavender is one of my favorite underrated scents and flavors, and I do prefer a succulently sweet blackberry over a blueberry any day of the week. So maybe earthed within me, is a secret love for the essence of purple after all?Orchids will forever remind me of my grandparents, who for years (and probably decades) have kept flourishing versions of these plants within the entirety of their house. Each potted orchid is usually a different color, but is always delicately watered and pruned by my green-thumbed family. Though fewer of these flowers line the shelves and kitchen counters of their home as my grandparents grow older, I always relate orchids back to my time spent with loved ones. So when stumbled upon this huge greenhouse in Half Moon Bay filled solely with the flora of my childhood, I felt a sudden pang of familiarity and comfort that I hadn’t felt in ages.This was my first manicure back in the Bay after returning from New York. My nails were paper thin and stubby from too many botched DIY attempts, and were starving for the bargain $20 gel I used to get three blocks away from my house. Walking into the large salon and having the many Vietnamese nail technicians yell at me to “pick a color,” was like a warm welcoming in its own odd way –– as was returning to a gel manicure that didn’t cost more than $35. Though the initially-light gray polish that I chose ended up being more purple than I expected, the experience reminded me that in part, home is where your favorite nail salon is.Simply captioned: Lavender love (Half Moon Bay edition).Okay, now I have an explanation for the lavender appreciation that fills this post. I have fond memories scent as a child. The purple-budded plants grew abundantly in my family backyard, and I could never resist picking these lone colorful flowers from our garden to make my own bouquet fit for the fictional Disney princess I longed to be. I also recall driving up to rural Washington with my family during a trip to visit my grandparents in Seattle, where we made a day of picking strawberries and lavender in adjacent fields. That same afternoon, I bought the bar of florally fragrant soap (an odd purchase for a seven-year-old) that truly sparked my lavender obsession. There was only one pesky thing that got in the way of me loving the perfume-y flower: my immense fear of bees –– a seemingly grotesque and horrifying species of insect that appeared to be attracted to lavender as much as I was (for different reasons, obviously). I was only satisfied again when I found out that you could actually eat the purple flora, thanks to Bi-Rite’s “honey lavender” ice cream. Following that realization, it was all about tasting every lavender boba, cookie and –– most recently–– latte (the one pictured being from Home Cafe) I could get my hands on.Anytime I want to make the long journey from my house to the Mission by bus, I have to take the train and then continue to walk for a “short for NYC standards, yet far for SF” distance of about seven blocks before reaching my destination (which is normally a brunch spot). While usually I get defeated mid-way and –– for a split-second –– consider calling an Uber to drive me half a mile, this tiny flower shop on Church is my redeeming ray of hope during the journey. Their outside floral displays change seasonally and I can never resist taking a picture before the next leg of my melodramatic travels. Lavender appreciation part three (the Alameda Flea Market edition).After living amongst drab and nearly-identical brownstones and high-rises for a semester, I came to appreciate San Francisco’s wide array of vibrant pastel houses. From the bubblegum pink abodes sprinkling within Sunset (which, fun fact: are apparently common amongst Asian families because of the low cost of paint in this particular shade) to the famous rainbow house on Clipper Street, the diverse and eccentric City by the Bay has an unsurprising affinity for super-saturated dwellings –– a pleasant detail that makes long walks and waits for the bus all the more scenic. In an attempt to have a wanderlust-quenched summer, my friend GG and made the effort to take small day trips to areas only a quick drive or BART-ride away from the city. This particular adventure, my travel companion and I toured the many microscopic towns that line the pacific coasts –– picking up a whopping eight avocados for 99 cents from the roadside and taking countless ocean pictures along the way. Our main destination was Santa Cruz and the ever-so quaint Swanton Berry Farm in Pescadero (population: 643), where I had dreams of taking cute and nature-y Instagram pictures of me picking fruit to evoke the contrived, effortless look of a Kinfolk magazine subject. In reality, the weather at the farm was scorching hot (and too sunny for well-lit photos) and my new paper-white sneakers quickly became invaded by dust and mud. Though the afternoon wasn’t as picturesque as I had hoped, we walked away with another pleaant reward of the day –– the cartons full of ripe berries we had so lovingly picked out ourselves.Earlier today –– as I happily picked sprigs of fragrant wild anise flowers that invaded the vacant lot next to our parking space in Dogpatch –– I remarked my weird love for foods (especially fruits) that grow naturally in random spots within metropolitan environments like San Francisco. While this may seem like an oddly specific entity to adore, it’s all the more common than you’d think. Let me hit you with a few examples. It all started years ago, when a childhood friend and I spent a whole summer day picking wild blackberries in Golden Gate park. Similar berry bushes were tucked away in one small nook at my high school (unnoticed by many) and I also recently discovered a peach tree thriving in the front of a house near my office. This proof of agriculture in the city (that aren’t pesky weeds, that is) is a refreshing departure from the drought-ravished, urban jungle that I live in. Pictured here were what I think are limes, sprouting against a nicely-coordinated lilac wall, spotted on the way to dinner in Potrero Hill –– another instance of the life that you can find amongst the concrete, if you look hard enough.
Words and images by Campbell Gee.