It’s sunny in Pasadena, but an 8 a.m. car drop-off for new tires inspires doubt. I think I was oversold. I don’t really need Pirellis for the Prius. So I walk the Lake Avenue neighborhood, opting to raise my heart rate through exercise instead of anxiety. I need to live long enough to pay for those tires.
Turns out to be a good opportunity to take photos of my plant friends along Lake Avenue.
Here’s what I saw.
A stunning variegated Pride of Madeira, actually Star of Madeira, Echium candicans, with velvety leaves. She is composed like a poinsettia, or a snow-tipped scene that my forebears escaped so that I could be here today, on a 70-degree Pasadena morning. It’s a nice planting with this variegated flax next to it, but let’s introduce some red with the brick backdrop. If you want to try this at home, consider interplanting with Echeveria “Afterglow”or Pennisetum advena “Eaton Canyon,” a compact mound of purple fountain grass with purple tips on green grassy blades.
In the median on Lake I see your tax dollars at work. Agaves overplanted. Note to self: Check public servants’ roster. Did these planners go to school with the folks who just took out the Arcadia oak woodland? Oy, can’t we do better in our developed society?
Mother Nature calms me with new spring growth on the Gypsum Century plant, Agave gypsophila. The asparagus flower spikes are glorious rocket pops of purple and green. Both feminine and feisty, the serrated margins on these leaves resemble a serged hem.
I bump into my friend Sally, who is power walking from her house in Madison Heights, up Lake, through Old Pasadena and back again. This woman is a marvel of cheer, intellect and keen conversation. I observe aloud that she’s like a speedboat and wonder if anyone ever says no to her. She thinks for a moment before replying happily, “I don’t think so.” So I join her, although I can’t talk and keep her pace.
In front of the Paseo post office, two ladies with conventioneer badges (Food Service Convention today—hey, Jamie Oliver!) call out to us, “Do you live here?”
“We do,” I gasp, but Sally’s not slowing down to chat
“Which way should we go?” asks Lady #1, pointing east and west. Here’s my chance to slow for a minute. Go West, middle-aged woman! I borrow Colleen Dunn Bates’s tip: Do yourself a favor and walk one block north and south of Colorado, as well as the main drag. Lots of shops, architecture and coffee are just off the big path.
As we near Mills Place, I realize it’s time for my morning coffee. Landlubber that I am, I jump off the ketch Sally and head for Equator, an Asian-fusion restaurant that also doubles as a coffee bar. A stiff latte and a lagniappe if you bring your own cup. My barista, Jason, who in reality is a starving artist, checks on me once I’m settled outside. I was here on Tuesday and discovered Equator’s early-bird special: any coffee drink is $2 before noon. I triple latted on Tuesday, and it was delicious because it was so inexpensive. Today, this new one is delicious, too, even at $3.75. Maybe because this Equator and Mills Alley makes me feel like I’m on a city vacation.
Pit stop in the luxe bathroom at Equator. If they had Frette towels, I’d swear this is the Langham. Clean, funky-decadent wall treatment, beautiful sink, good water pressure, no swampy smell. Try the Altadena Country Club if that’s your preferred fragrance. Something about the elevation up there just funks up the poolside bathrooms.
But I digress. Time to collect my new wheels, not as expensive as the quote, and spin away, refreshed from my Saturday morning in Old Pasadena.
Equator Restaurant & Bar
22 Mills Place, Old Pasadena
Sun.-Thurs. 8 a.m. – 1 a.m., Fri.-Sat. 8 a.m. – 2 a.m.