Walking: the purple plums of Palo Alto

For a long time during the winter rains this year, I couldn’t go walking in my neighborhood, since I had no way to protect myself (with both hands on my walker) or the walker itself from the rain. Then it was just unpleasantly cool and tough on my breathing, and anyway I moved into Whizz City (for good medical reasons) and had only about 20-minute intervals to walk in, at the risk of pissing my pants on the sidewalks of Palo Alto (which did happen once, just once, an occasion that succeeded in warning me away from going out).

But recently it’s gotten warmer and drier, so on Sunday I ventured to walk around the block during a safely whizz-free interval, and it was absurdly pleasant, to be out in the sun in my place, able to stop and rest when I needed to, because my excellent Rollator comes with a seat you can sit on when you need to (a boon for someone who suffers from dyspnea on exertion).

Along the way I noticed a number of handsome small street trees with quite striking dark purple leaves, trees I apparently had previously, negligently, just treated as background. Some rooting around on-line led me to the information that I was looking at some cultivar — there are quite a few — of the purple leaf plum / purple-leaf plum / purpleleaf plum, purple plum for short (presumably a cultivar with only tiny hard fruits, so it makes a good ornamental street tree). A pleasure of the afternoon.

A bit more on the trees below. But first, on to Monday, yesterday, with a somewhat more ambitious walk in a 20-minute window, this time on business.

Vanquishing the San Mateo Credit Union ATM. One block north to City Hall and down a ramp into the parking garage, where my credit union has an ATM. To deposit the June check for the rent of my parking space in the garage of my condo, from my upstairs neighbor Val. I hadn’t been able to negotiate the ATM trek for months, and the ramp is nightmarish (both down and up) in a walker, but I dd it.

When I got to the machine it was malfunctioning by showing option screens but with no legible instructions for that screen, so I had to guess when YES meant “yes, print a receipt for me” and when it meant “yes, I have another transaction to perform” and so on. My memory from long ago about how the system worked was, astonishingly, untouched, so I did it all flawlessly. I am ridiculously proud of this achievement.

On the way back, I got to stop and rest in the doorway of the neighborhood Caribbean restaurant Coconuts (closed on Mondays) and just watch people walking on the street. Strangely soothing.

And then to home, as my Pa. Dutch grandmother used to say. I was a very good walk.

(I was ready to do another walk today — I really need to work out my walking muscles — but it’s unpleasant weather, with even some surprise rain this morning, so that will have to wait for tomorrow.)

Purple plums. The small-to-medium trees are cultivars (in some cases, hybrids) of Prunus cerasiflora, common name cherry plum, widely used in gardens and landscaping and especially valued for their early flowering (in white or pink), but, alas, invasive in some areas. Specifically, they are cultivars bred for purple (rather than the usual green) foliage. And also bred for tiny, inedible fruits, so they don’t make a mess on the sidewalks. Here’s a specimen in Palo Alto from the Canopy (Palo Alto tree) site (canopy.org):

Not the best of the art of photography, but it’s genuinely a Palo Alto purple plum.


One Response to “Walking: the purple plums of Palo Alto”

  1. julianne taaffe Says:

    I planted a purple plum in my yard 25 years ago and it still gives me blossoms early each spring.

    I’m happy you enjoyed your walk.

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