Here, a real winter break of sorts

by John Pixley

I’ve been enjoying this winter break. It has been nice having some extra time. It has been nice having more time to think about pears poached in sherry.

Or was it port? I’m sure I can find it online. My mother once made a recipe like this, so I’m sure I can find it out there.

I should do something with all the pears I’ve been getting in my box. That’s the thing about getting my fruits and vegetables from Farm Fresh to You. I have to make do with what shows up in the box.

Like, what do I do with all the sweet potatoes I’m getting? Perhaps I’ll have more of those sweet potatoes and tomatoes. That was a good recipe from my world vegetarian cookbook—it’s from Senegal. 

Actually, I can now choose what I want to be put in my Farm Fresh box but, at least so far, that seems like more work and less fun. I still like the adventure of using what shows up. I do buy specific produce for a recipe, and I may well be choosing my box contents when 2016 rolls around.

Or, if I didn’t want to find recipes online, I could always catch a movie there. I may be well behind the times, but I was pretty impressed when a young tech-savvy friend and I recently watched a movie on his laptop. No, it wasn’t The Interview. I’m not exactly comfortable about not paying for an entire movie online, and I’m definitely no luddite, but there is clearly a world I’m missing out on or not taking advantage of.

Of course, there was always the option of renting a video. I have been to Video Paradiso several times in the last several weeks. It’s a pretty good video store—lots of out-of-town friends think it’s cool—although the video my laptop friend and I wanted to watch had gone missing. When we tried to find another place that might have the video, it seemed that Video Paradiso, like bookstores, is one of a vanishing breed, with there being fewer such shops than I remember there being in past years.

I hope not. Again, I find that I’m a bit behind the times. It seems that video stores will no longer be needed with everyone watching movies online, whether or not they’re paid for. I hope I’m wrong and that these stores stick around but, then again, 2016 will be here before I know it.

There has been also a whole slew of new movies to check out, as there always is in December and January. With it being the season for nominations and awards in the film world, there is a bevy of fine offerings at the local bijou. I’ve seen Birdman, The Theory of Everything, Top Five, Wild, Into the Woods, Selma and The Imitation Game. I can’t wait to see Still Alice, Inherent Vice, Foxcatcher, Big Eyes and some others. 

It’s so nice that we have a local bijou. With the Laemmle Cinema 5 in the Village, many of these films are playing right here in town. Five years ago or so, I had to go to Pasadena or Los Angeles to see some of these independent, non-blockbuster films in the theater. The Laemmle has been a fantastic addition to Claremont, and it has made this movie-going season even better. It’s nice to see that others feel the same way; I certainly don’t have to hold my breath anymore, as I did for the first couple years, hoping the theater wouldn’t close due to lack of customers.

I also have had some television programs to catch up on. Never mind Netflix, Hulu and whatever else; these are programs I recorded to watch later.

Later has been now during these past several weeks when things have been quiet in Claremont, even with many of us back at work after Christmas and New Year’s Day. Yes, with the Colleges not in session for the last four weeks and with everyone busy with—and then recovering from—the holidays and all their activities, things have been pretty quiet here.

It used to be that this was the case in the summer. Summers in Claremont used to be pretty dead, a long, hot three months that had to be waited out with the Colleges closed and everyone skipping town. Summer is still hot but now with the line-up of outdoor concerts and film screenings and, as of last year, a lovely outdoor Shakespeare festival, it isn’t so much of a long slog. In fact, I find the summer more likely to zip by.

No doubt my getting older has something to do with this. Just as I’m a bit behind the times and not completely up to speed on the newest gadgets and media, I am no longer the restless young man that I was, and I’m certainly not a bored teenager. But Claremont is also not so much the sleepy, little town that it used to be.

So, these last few weeks have been our real break here in Claremont. All the more so with no city council election campaigning, due to a lack of candidates other than the incumbents, to jolt us after the holidays. But soon enough, the Colleges will be in full swing with the students back next week, and many of us will be involved in various projects and activities gearing up to a busy, action-filled spring.

Meanwhile, it has been nice having evenings free and also more time on the weekends to enjoy the quiet, beautiful campuses. What more, even with the recent rain, these warm, sunny days that we have been having give a new meaning to “winter break.”

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