I walked along the river today and saw at least twenty people in row boats. It was beautiful with fall greys and tans. The auburn around the water and the grey sky and the heroic people pulling the paddles made a certain kind of picture. There was a tall and narrow ruin along the main highway with a new structure of H beams inside and some thick boards making a second story. It was all open through decay but it looked like a squat. Then I came into a suburb with small grassy plots and bushes. The corners of the houses were painted to show that they were reinforced with quoins, but the paint was really just mimicking the old tradition. Front rooms with a lot of glass are pretty common. Just before the person goes into the front door they have a small glass room smaller than the average bathroom. If it was sunny these greenhouses could heat the house, but when it is cloudy it seems to play more of a social function, a transition spot to shed layers and get ready for the warmth of the inside. The suburbs remind me of the Berkeley hills because the plots and streets are small enough that it doesn’t feel excessive.
I came onto the Terryland shopping center where empty car retail stores sat next to Asian food restaurants and fitness centers. I walked through a Tescos for about a half an hour trying to bring the blood back into my hands and face. I let the labels be my textbook for the day. Turns out the U.S. exports walnuts, dried cherries, pistachios, pecans, and sweet potatoes for a cheaper price than any country in the EU. EU nations are penalized for importing from non-EU members so it was particularly interesting to see what came from outside. Thailand sent some lemon grass. Costa Rica sent bananas. Brazil sent pineapples and guavas. China sent pine nuts, sunflower seeds, and cranberries. Bolivia sent Brazil nuts ironically. France only sent dried figs and apricots as far as I could tell. Spain and Holland were all over the place: tomatoes, onions, roots veggies, oranges, lemons, apples. Holland with it's short winter days? Ireland provided its own carrots, potatoes, cooking apples, some pears, onions, potted herb plants, mushrooms, and a few other odds and ends. Ireland is really into cooking apples which are big green apples that are more bitter than desert or eating apples. The cheeses tend to be Irish, French, Dutch, or Spanish. Ireland has a few of its own goat products and a cheese made with sheep milk even.