Whatever I'm Thinking

The Languor of Santa Barbara

March 27, 2022
(photos and memories of Santa Barbara, California from May 2005 and March 2016)

The town of Santa Barbara and California’s Santa Ynez Mountains beyond. This photo was taken in 2005 from atop the county courthouse.

Languor: n. (lăng′gər, lăng′ər): A dreamy, lazy, or sensual quality, as of expression: “the clarity of her complexion, the length and languor of her eyelashes (Jhumpa Lahiri).”

That’s Santa Barbara, California. Herewith then, are some photos of languor.

I’ve visited Santa Barbara many times over the years, with the most recent visit on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day 2016 (more on that later). Such a gorgeous day. I started at Mission Santa Barbara.

Mission Santa Barbara

From Wikipedia: “Often referred to as the ‘Queen of the Missions,’ [Mission Santa Barbara] was founded by Padre Fermín Lasuén for the Franciscan order on December 4, 1786, the feast day of Saint Barbara, as the tenth mission of what would later become 21 missions in Alta California.”

Early water storage and irrigation system at Mission Santa Barbara

Although founded over 200 years ago, the mission remains a parish church today and is part of the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

St. Patrick’s Day at Mission Santa Barbara
Inside Mission Santa Barbara

Besides being a working parish, Mission Santa Barbara is also a museum and historical site drawing thousands of tourists each year.

Entrance to Mission Santa Barbara

A few blocks below the Mission, on Anacapa Street, stands the magnificent Santa Barbara County courthouse. Constructed in 1925 to replace a building damaged by earthquakes, this courthouse is a classic of design and style.  Well-known and often photographed, it was designed in the mode of a Spanish castle and includes a prominent corner tower and turrets, red tile roofing, a courtyard, and open patios and porches for natural cooling.

Plaque found inside the Santa Barbara County Courthouse

This is one of the main entrances, along Santa Barbara Street. The Latin inscription on the archway reads Discite Justitiam Moniti, translated as “Hear and Be Just,” or “Having Been Warned, Learn Justice.”

Santa Barbara County courthouse
Discite Justitiam Moniti

Here’s another entrance. The Latin inscription on this archway reads Dios Nos Dio Los Campos; El Arte Humana Edifico Civdades, translated as “God Hath Given us Countryside; the Art of Man Hath Built Cities.”

Santa Barbara County courthouse
“God Hath Given us Countryside; the Art of Man Hath Built Cities”

Perhaps nothing describes languor better than an open, grassy courtyard in a Mediterranean-style palace on a warm, sunny Spring day:

The open courtyard within the Santa Barbara County courthouse
Clocktower, corner turret, and interior courtyard. Santa Barbara County courthouse
Family play time. Santa Barbara County courthouse
Courthouse roof and other red tiled roofs. Santa Barbara, California

Not to be outdone by the magnificent exterior, the magnificent courthouse interior includes a mural room and other paintings. I’ll just show them below as a set of tiled galleries:


Santa Barbara County within the state of California

State Street is Santa Barbara’s main shopping and commercial street. I photographed the shops and the shoppers.  Italian restaurants were mixed in with jewelry stores and fashion stores.  Most if not all buildings were done in the Spanish Adobe style. 

Starbucks’ walls were whitewashed with the sun. 

A Starbucks Coffee shop along State Street in Santa Barbara

Even the Macy’s store looks like a castle.

Macy’s department store, Santa Barbara

Further down State, young people were drinking green beer in bars made up for St. Patrick’s Day.  The Old Kings Road English pub was fully decked out in green Guinness banners and shamrock-shaped green balloons.  From what I’ve seen back in England, no English pub would ever celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in such a way. However, the “NO WANKERS!” scribbled on the chalkboard is very English indeed!

Old Kings Road English pub. Santa Barbara, California

Amidst the languor and the glamor, offshore oil rigs can be seen from the center of town dotting the ocean surface. They have always been, perhaps, the underpinning of prosperity in Santa Barbara. Let’s not forget them.

Offshore oil and gas rigs in the Santa Barbara Channel

Languor.  The sun comes up on a clear morning — every day.  It’s warm and clear — every day.  It’s cool in the evening — every day.  Rich people live here.  Why do they work? Why do their children work instead of just drawing on the trust fund?  But they do work in the shops, and they converse with friends.  But they do work, perhaps not at the frenetic pace or with the sense of urgency found so much elsewhere, but they do work still.  Perhaps this tells something about the human condition: people still strive even in paradise.

A list of all photo posts from the American County Seats series in TimManBlog can be found here.

All photos were taken by the author either on May 21, 2005, or March 17, 2016.

I’m trying to travel to all of America’s county courthouses, and each month a post about my visit to the most interesting county seats. It’s a hobby and donations are greatly appreciated to help defer my costs.


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One thought on “The Languor of Santa Barbara

  1. Ruth Black on said:

    Santa Barbara looks like a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing your pictures.

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