In the northern part of California, between Napa and San Francisco, there’s a town called Petaluma. The people that live there are quite loud, but also quite quaint. Everyone willingly fills their lives with assorted goods, nick-knacks, antiques, and old books. Petaluma is surrounded by hundreds of little shops scattered around town.
At least once a week, a couple of streets are blocked off in order to make room for one of the many festivals Petaluma holds. Antique fairs, farmer’s markets, holiday celebrations, concerts and many more. These festivals are where most of the townsfolk would gather and chat. You’ll find bakers filling the air with the smell of their fresh crisp bread. Antique clothes and jewelry plus some old chairs and dressers, and probably some old books with the pages falling out. Now of course while the parents intently look at the locally made soap and honey, kids of all ages are running around with face paint and left over calk on their hands from making street art. During these festivals, families would occupy small patches of green grass as they enjoyed the sun and listen to musicians playing for not money but for the pure joy of it.
When the townsfolk aren’t at a festival or at Petaluma’s own outlet mall, they’re enjoying the large river that separates the town. In the winter you’ll see people gather by the riverside to watch the Christmas floats and in the summer you’ll see kayakers enjoying the sun. But most of all it’s where I, like many other children, spent their childhood. Walking the banks, shaded by the trees that slowly droop into the water below. Certainly an adventure awaited anyone that walked the dirt path which ran along the riverside.
I never really praised Petaluma for what he was until I moved up to Oregon. I’m certain that Petaluma has changed over the years, but I know that it will continue to have that same smell of dusty old books and sweet caramelized popcorn. The same smells that remind me of the comfortable feeling of home sweet home.