All the Lodis of the World

Lodi, California

Lodi, California

Last night while having a drink with some good friends who visited Lodi in the dog days of summer last year we developed a fabulous plan: I should visit all the Lodis of the world. Ok, fabulous may not be the right word… how about ambitious? Single-minded? Hare-brained?

Lodi is a relatively common name for U.S. towns. I once counted at least 13 in a U.S. atlas.There are Lodis peppered across the country: in New Jersey, Ohio, California. It makes you wonder if that many settlers were familiar with the Lodi in Italy that I assume is the original Lodi for which the rest are named.

I do have a bit of a head start on this project: I’ve already been to Lodi, New Jersey. Sadly I saw no more of it than the road sign on the highway as I was driving into New York City, and perhaps that was enough? I’m not sure that the part of New Jersey near New York City would be considered to exemplify the state motto as the Garden State.

On one of my Great American Road Trips of the last 8 years I’m sure I’ve been to at least one other Lodi, but I really can’t remember where. Ohio? Indiana? Wisconsin? Clearly this Lodi didn’t make a huge impression on me either.

Seeing as it’s mid-January in Ottawa, I’m happy to do some California dreaming and imagine a trip to Lodi, California, that of the famous song. Being stuck in Lodi, California might not be that bad seeing as we have another 3 months of winter ahead of us here. Sigh…

Of course the capper to this whole project would be a pilgrimage to the mothership: Lodi in Italy, where it all started. I don’t know too much about Lodi, Italy, except that obviously a lot of people left it. But the Italian Lodi is sure to be chic, fashionable and replete with delicious food around every bend, at least more so than the Lodis I’m already familiar with.

To be fair, I think I will give myself the rest of my life to accomplish this and thus avoid the pressure of a time limit. That being said, perhaps a summer road trip hitting several of the most *fabulous* Lodis is in order…

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Christmas in Lodi

The barn in winter

The barn in winter

When I was young my family used to travel from St. John’s, Newfoundland where we lived to Lodi, New York to celebrate Christmas with my Grandma. Thankfully we wouldn’t drive the 4 days to get there like we did in the summertime.

We had Christmas in Lodi in alternate years from celebrating Christmas in Toronto with my other set of grandparents. In Lodi we would celebrate with my Grandma and sometimes my uncle Floyd who would return to Lodi from his home in Boston.

Christmas in Lodi with Grandma and Floydie was lots of fun, of course, with the requisite fabulous meals, lots of presents and Grandma’s wonderful baking (with the aforementioned walnuts she would have dried over the fall).

As a kid I remember staring up at a seemingly gigantic overflowing pile of presents in the elegant front stairwell of the Lodi Home Farm where they would be stored in anticipation of being slid under the Christmas tree. It was a truly magical sight for a child.

Living in the country affords folks a more immediate connection with the Christmas tree than we have in the city. No stacks of trees in grocery store parking lots imported from Quebec or the Maritimes–no, sir. I remember the family trekking out into the woods on the Golding Farm property in Lodi with a rusty saw and a toboggan cut down a tree and haul back a “wild” Christmas tree. It was cold work that somehow seemed to get less festive with every passing moment that we were standing around arguing over the perfect tree.

The most exciting thing as a kid celebrating Christmas in Lodi was that Grandma’s rules applied for the Christmas tree. These rules included coloured lights (at our home white lights were the standard) lots of gold and silver swags of tinsel and individually applied strands of silver icicles.

Somehow the Lodi Christmas tree always seemed quintessentially “American” in contrast to our various trees at home in Canada: it celebrated excess, it was incredibly colourful and a bit brash. Our Canadian trees are always more reserved and understated in contrast. (I’m allowed to make these stereotypical tree decrees, being both Canadian and American myself).

Lodi is a great place for Christmas with the snow-covered trees, the crisp, winter country air and the years and years of great family memories built up in the Home Farm house over generations of Christmases celebrated there.