Denios. Yes, the Roseville auction. It seemed like a perfect place to spend a few hours on “Super Saturday” before Christmas. Our mission? Wander around and bring home some pictures and a story or two. We paid the obligatory $3.00 to park which seems to be a bone of contention with the folks who review the place on Yelp and made our way to an entrance. Almost immediately, just twenty strides into the grounds one of our companions haggled an International Services Private Security jacket from $15.00 to $10.00. He was cold and the price was right. The rest of the day (when we managed to stay together) we were accompanied by our own private security guard. We each were attracted by different things. Me, I like shiny objects. My other two companions, who knows, but they kept wandering off in opposite directions. After rambling through endless stalls of cheap clothing, blankets and cookware, they dragged me away from the junk tables (I love other people’s junk!) to peruse the food section. There, roasted peanuts, jicima, dried hibiscus, thai chilis and tamarindo beckoned like precious items.
From the produce gauntlet hidden beneath a canopy blocking the harsh winter glare, you can hear the carnival barker-like shouts of stall-tenders advertising their fruits, vegetables and other treats. Towards the end of the day, as the fruit ripens, the bargains get better. Five turnips for a dollar. Bag of big juicy kiwis, a dollar. I don’t really know if they were juicy. I didn’t try one. And, big is subjective. It does feel like you’re transported to another country with the sounds of different languages layered together.
I watched a woman scrape the spines off her nopales and daydreamed about my new life as a chef cooking with these exotic things. She made it look so easy! I attempted to memorize the sign on the tejcotes that described how to make ponche Navideño Eventually I snapped out of my alternate kitchen reality and became aware that I once again had lost my photographer companion. He is obsessed with taking stock photos at the moment and had been dismissing most of my photo ideas as, sniff, “too editorial.”
Predictably I found him snapping shots of the various fruits and veggies and so I arranged to meet him at the used books in section B10-14. There I met Terasia, a bookseller with an authoritative manner who’s willing to talk about her books, her family heritage, how NOT to pronounce her name or whatever topic you’d like. She has a lot of books and as she sternly pronounced, she knows her inventory.
Eventually, it was time to go. As we wandered back to the entrance the sparkling jewelry, hair accessories, and prom dresses caught my eye. I wanted to be Denio-Fabulous! But I was tired and I only had three dollars and it was time to get back to the reality of pre-Christmas madness. Maybe next time.