The Memory of Generations Gone By

Monday, September 30, 2013

Introductory Garden: Western Pacific Rail Road Depot
My friends -- I don't often do this. But -- this time -- I had to make an exception. I am regularly approached by one person or another offering cash or product trade for space on this blog. I turn the vast majority of these requests down because this is not a commercial blog, nor did I ever intend it to be one. This is simply one man's diary of gardening in Northern California -- nothing more.

But -- from time to time I do manage to touch upon on a subject that touches others in the Northern California area. It's not intentional. But when you write about Northern California experiences, people and places, you're bound to strike a chord with someone. In this particular case, it appears I did. And I had to share it with you.

Branches of an Heirloom Duke Avocado Tree
The message below comes from a reader named Martha Smith, who stumbled across this blog after shopping for Duke Avocados at the Chico Farmer's Market this past weekend. Dukes are now "in season" across Northern California markets, so if you're interested in trying out a variety that is native to Northern California, get while the getting is good. Duke Avocado season doesn't last long.

Martha wrote to me after reading my latest post about my personal adventure with the Duke Avocado here. Additional updates about the Duke can be found here and here.

In Martha's words -- I have not changed a thing:

"Dear Bill,

About 6 or so years ago, I had mentioned to my father that I was traveling to Oroville. He said, "if you have the time, go by The Depot, and visit the trees. It is there that your grandmother fell in love with  your grandfather. She would wait at the small grove of trees for his train to come in."

Note: This was the secret lovers meeting place, because he was not approved by her father.

Duke Avocado Trees: Oroville
So I went there and saw the  old carvings into the trees from long ago. Carving each others initials into the tree trunk was the way back then. It must have been one of the biggest ways to proclaim their love for each other, out-loud.

I also noticed the sign of "do not touch". But I had to touch the trunk. Just once to experience the whole idea that their love for each other had been spoken in this very spot, long ago. That would have been in the mid-1930's.

I had put that experience and details away in my heart until today.

I was at the Chico Farmers market and saw the green avocado's  with the sign that read Duke Avocado's.

Curious and all, I asked a few questions and was satisfied with trying them. Then I set out to search the internet for information.

Western Pacific Rail Road Depot: Oroville
Thankfully I found your website and want you to know how glad I am for your research. You have just made  a beautiful fall day even better.

When I see the Duke, it will always represent a link to my ancestors who lived in the area.

Thank you again,

Martha Smith

No, Martha, thank you for sharing a wonderful story. Take care, and God Bless.

PURCHASE DUKE AVOCADOS: Duke Avocado season starts in late September and continues through mid-to-late October depending upon availability. There is only one Northern California grower that has a collection of these unique trees. They are located on the grounds of a 2,000 acre family ranch known as Chaffin Family Orchards, located just north of Oroville. The Chaffin Family sells Duke Avocados at farmer's markets in Chico and Paradise until the supply runs out for the year. Please visit the ranch website for more information.

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