After 7pm, cats own this city. The twilight draws them out from under the cars and from behind the bushes and they roll around in front of their houses taking the post of lazy guardian. The cats have no fear. During my first month in Santa Cruz I was out walking after dinner and paused to read a poster stapled to a light pole. I was startled when two twin tabby orange blurs coiled around my legs and started chirping at me. One followed me with mild amusement for about a block until we crossed paths with another cat. There is a silent agreement to not cross into another felines domain, and the cats respect it. Maybe I just never noticed the cats in San Diego. Maybe they were just content to their backyards. But the cats here are bold and I love it. I feel like a little kid when I go out walking and see a cat. I point excitedly and gawk and no one, including the cat, is as excited as me.
The houses the cats kick it in front of are also neat. I’m used to seeing Spanish influence predominantly, and while that is still present in Santa Cruz, there are also a great number of Victorian homes. They are beautiful and ornate with bay windows and spires, bright tiles and funky accents, and trim around the roof that makes some of the houses look more like they are made of ginger bread and decorated with icing rather than made of wood and shingles.
There is something romantic about wide, curved windows. I picture a family sharing a meal and looking out the window or perhaps reading a book in the window cill and watching beads of rain trail across the glass. Walnut street in particular is full of these beautiful old homes. My favorite is this big yellow one with pink accents. There is a statue of a woman in the front yard and a plaque near the door describing the history of the home. I believe that the building was constructed for a man’s new bride, but the details escape me.
I think what I like the most about these homes is how personal they feel. They look like someone really put a great deal of effort into building them and adding minor additions to personalize it, down to the tangerine rectangles on the wooden door. The homes act as a reflection of the family living inside; warm, inviting, and a curiosity.