Sweet Sunday in Old Oakland

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Timeworn beauty and a tangle of blossoms

Most Sundays, K and I walk to a nearby farmers’ market. The stretch of houses, shops, and sights between our apartment and Jack London Square has become familiar, yet I still notice new details each time.

Today, camera in tow, my eyes were opened to the fantastic murals along the way. I’ve always been enchanted by the mix of historic homes, industrial spaces, and bright splashes of color, but this time, looking for interesting backdrops for my maxi-dress ensemble, I became better acquainted with these public works of art.

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Close-up of a mural by Youth Spirit Artworks and Community Rejuvenation Project, outside the local chapter of the Engineers and Scientists of California

You can feel the layers of urban history here as sprawling murals give way to quaint side streets. One of our favorite spots in the heart of Old Oakland is the used bookstore run by the Friends of the Oakland Public Library. It appears small, but it’s the kind of place stocked with books you’ve been meaning to read and had almost forgotten about until they magically appear before you (at least, that’s my experience here).
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Today, there was a sign outside the store asking “Who is your favorite female protagonist?” A number of answers had been scrawled on the whiteboard, from Scout Finch to Morgan Le Fay. It’s a difficult question, but in that moment, I added Anne Shirley to the list.

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Later, we wove back to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and followed it through residential streets into the wider expanses of the warehouses and lofts between Old Oakland and the waterfront.

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Wind, leaves, and motion in Roots Run Deep by Meggs

I got lost in another mural—a swirling force of reds, teals, and ferocity—before landing at our final destination: the square at the harbor, where heirloom tomatoes, strawberries, and okra awaited.

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The nautical splendor of Jack London Square

Although I like the anonymity of the city, I love having a local list of places that I can go to while still feeling at home. Though Jack London Square has a touristy bent, I can’t help but feel that a gussied-up marina is a luxurious location to buy locally grown fruits and vegetables. The waterfront has really grown on me, which was probably inevitable, as I’m always drawn to the nearest body of water—being near the ocean or a rushing river gives such a feeling of release.

What are your weekend routes and routines? What sights and experiences comfort and inspire you?

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