To know it for the first time

May 14, 2012

There was a time when I’d rather rip my tongue out than say that Rochester’s an interesting place. But hey: Rochester is an interesting place.

My trips to my hometown have always been centered around family events, with little time to look around. It’s easy to forget how beautiful western NY state is. (We actually call it upstate NY.  Manhattanites, who think they’re the center of the universe, call anything north of the city “upstate.” But really, Rochester is in Western NY on Lake Ontario. In the interests of accuracy.)

Anyway, I’ve had time survey my surroundings these last few trips and I like what I see.

Just another street. Wide, shady, green, gorgeous.
Lawns are huge, with beautiful, mature trees
Rochester’s Lilac Festival is famous. (I don’t like any kind of floral scent, especially lilac, though, so don’t send me any. Pictures are fine.)
These taste just like a strawberry filled shortbread cookie my mother’s father used to bring us. But these were made by my sister-in-love’s sister, Bon. Still, they taste like “home.” (Miss you, Papa!)
Bon’s an incredible baker. An incredible person, too, but boy, can she bake.She also made this fantabulous pound cake that is a party in your mouth. Full of fabulosity. On our flight back to California, I discovered that my sister-in-love had sneaked some into our hand luggage. It actually did make it to California, but not past midnight. We made short work of it at home.
But, back to Rochester. It’s home to Karma, the cutest bulldog puppy in the world.♥
Karma’s dad is Frankie, my cousin’s grown son.  Yes, every Italian family names one of the sons Frankie. It’s required. You can’t see it here, but Frankie is one seriously good looking young man. I’d never met him, but I think he’s around 30.  I’m pretty sure he’s the best looking man in our family. Except for my nephew, of course.
Florida has its Publix, California has its Safeway, but Rochester? It has Wegmans and I’m here to tell you that it’s the best grocery store ever. Oh, did I tell you one of my other cousins is some kind of frozen food mucky-muck at corporate? I haven’t seen him since the last funeral I went to, but he’s always pointed out within the family as a big success story.
Nope, she’s not a bag lady. She is pushing a cart heap full of…recycling. Yes, Rochesterians are serious recyclers. We Californians are smug about recyling, but Rochester? It found the secret.
Money.  That’s right. People are PAID for their recycling. These were just a few of the crowd stuffing plastic and metal into these machines at Wegmans, and in return, getting CASH. Not just homeless, jobless people, either. Regular folk. And there’s an entire ROW of machines expressly for this. Money for recycling.
It’s their deposits. Yes, they get their deposits back when they return the cans and bottles. Most of us pay deposits on plastic, metal and glass, but there’s no easy mechanism to get money back. I have no idea why this hasn’t caught on in California. (Ok, it’s caught on among the homeless. I mean more broadly. God knows we need the money: have you seen the price of gas here lately?)
Sister-in-love gave us her SUV to drive while we were in town. I’m not sure why my 10-year-old BMW takes expensive premium gas and many other luxury cars do not. I didn’t fill this one up, so I don’t know about this one. All I can say is that it was a pleasure to drive this beauty. Ok, it was a pleasure for my husband to drive it. I rode along this time.

This was a trip of surprises, and my appreciation for my hometown was a big one. But not the biggest. I have some family stories to tell soon, and they were pretty darn surprising. You simply must stay tuned.

Here’s what I want to know: Have you ever looked at your own hometown with new eyes? What did you see?

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