This morning, when my cat, Cleo, and I, peered out the window and saw, in the growing morning light that the hills on the far side of my valley were clear, the dark smog had vanished and, once more, the air was the purest anywhere in the world. Covid-19 is like that. Here we are in the home stretch of a world-wide plague that has laid us low for nearly a year. It has given the world’s economy what might have been a death blow. It has sickened millions and killed hundreds of thousands world-wide. The morning is coming.
Cindy Leonard, Cobb Area Council member and the primary Firewise organizer for the day’s event, stands at the edge of Rainbow Bridge, a large roll of stickers in her hand. “Here,” she says, a smile in her eyes. “Take a couple.” She rips off four stickers. A rainbow arches over the words “Rainbow Bridge Celebration”. The bottom of the sticker reads: “5 Year Valley Fire Anniversary”. “It’s so nice to have something good,” Cindy says. “Particularly with how things are now. With the disasters,” She looks up at the haze that has lifted for the day, leaving the sky a misty-blue. “And COVID.” But she’s smiling, and her rainbow-striped skirt matches the bridge stretching across Kelsey Creek behind her. Rainbow streamers drape its sides, and signs with “Thank You” and “Finally” written on them in marker hang from the posts. AmeriCorps volunteers wander back and forth, leaning over the railings to watch the water flow beneath. It’s been a long road since the Valley Fire for the Cobb community, and today, five years after the fire, something beautiful happened. The importance of a small, single-lane bridge cannot be underestimated. For the past three years, the Estates neighborhood of Cobb, consisting of nearly 100 homes, has only had one entrance and exit. “That was scary when we had a house fire here last November,” Cindy says. “But this is just part of a larger four million dollar project that Cobb Water Company is working on.” Her eyes light up. “We’re going to have fire hydrants every five hundred feet!” Cindy, seeing another neighbor, quickly greets them: “Did you get some stickers?” The Rainbow Bridge collapsed in the winter of 2017 during the heavy rains. “We’ve got six pilings forty feet into the ground,” Robert Stark of Cobb Water Company and designer of the plan, says, standing at the edge of the bridge. They’ve rebuilt it to withstand another hundred- and thirty-inch rain year like the one that destroyed it. He looks across the creek at the sloping bank. “We used oversized American Steel to make it stronger. And we’ve still got to put riprap in. Then it won’t wash out.” To the left of the bridge in her parent’s driveway, Jessica Pyska decorates her vehicle with her children, getting it ready for the upcoming parade of cars. “It’s been a long haul, that’s for sure,” she says. “And it’s been a difficult and emotional time, with all this going on. It’s nice to have a glimmer of hope and joy.” It’s truly a community celebration and proof of Cobb’s resilience in the past five years. “it wasn’t an easy or quick process,” Cindy says. “It took a lot of drive and creativity by many people to see the project through to the end. The Friends of Cobb Mountain donated $26,000 to help fund the bridge, Americorps provided volunteers. District Supervisor Rob Brown and Jeff Lucas from Community Development Services provided assistance; State Senator Mike McGuire even helped advocate the project. North Coast Opportunities, EPIC/Listos, American Red Cross all helped fund and support the event. And it shows: there are almost as many volunteers as people coming for the event. Neighbors mill around, chatting with friends, and picking up their complimentary lunches. Kids lean over the bridge railings, dropping rocks into the water. Cars begin to line up on the road, getting ready to cross. After a few minutes, neighbors, friends, Cobb Water employees, and CAC members duck under the red ribbon stretching across the bridge, grab a massive pair of scissors, and cut it. Everyone cheers and claps; it’s a new beginning. A few minutes later the fire truck whoops its siren and the parade begins. Cars, following the fire trucks, begin to stream across the bridge, honking their horns. Neighbors clap and cheer, laughing and telling jokes as they cross the span. Jeeps, motorcycles, golf carts, and dogs in wagons walk across the creek, each with a big smile. AmeriCorps volunteers wait for them to cross, handing each driver a cupcake or two. And the parade keeps going. After crossing the Rainbow Bridge, the cars turn left on Bottle Rock Road for the first time in three years, then loop around to cross again. “We didn’t plan on it being on the fifth anniversary of the Valley Fire,” Cindy says. “But it’s good.” She smiles again. “It’s good to have some good news.”
Every person I have met during my fifty tears in lake County, and especially in Witter Springs, are good neighbors. They are the sort of folks you would want living next to you. Next to my farm in Witter Springs, I have two of the best neighbors you could find anywhere. Maybe it’s because of Carl Sandburg’s poetic prose about neighbors; ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’ We all have fences in Witter Springs. Naturally. Otherwise, our cattle and horses would be sitting on each other’s front porch.
It’s been said that Lake County isn’t business-friendly. With the 1 Team, 1 Dream competition, Maryann Schmid has upended that notion. She has an ability: seeing the potential in people and businesses. “I have no skills,” she laughs, smiling a huge, bright smile. “The only skill I have is being an entrepreneur. And I want to help other entrepreneurs succeed.” That’s why she and Olga Martin Steele founded the 1 Team, 1 Dream competition, a contest designed to help foster promote small businesses in our county. Prizes for the competition range from $1,000 for fifth place up to $15,000 for first. But the 1 Team, 1 Dream competition is much more than just winning a cash prize. It’s about learning how to implement an idea effectively. Once the application deadline closes on August 31st, several of the applicants will continue in the competition. They will attend a one-day training on business planning, learn how to develop a business plan, and make a presentation on their idea to a panel of judges. All applicants will learn invaluable skills needed to succeed in our constantly changing economy.
Animals communicate. They can’t speak words, at least that’s true most of the time, but we once had a mongrel dog that could. My dear wife, who found the dog in San Francisco and brought her home, taught Sweetness (that was the name she gave the dog) to speak. I’ll swear to it. Our friends heard her speak as well. Many times. Sweetness had a limited vocabulary, but it could say ‘I love you.’ That’s what my wife taught the dog to say. Sweetness did it every time she had an audience, and when my wife asked her. Of course, it was rough speech. Actually, the dog said something that sounded more like, ‘Ahhiiiee wuuvvve oooo.’ But that is what it was trying to say.
Many people don’t realize that the various seals, joints and holes in an RV’s skin are sealed with a material that is actually considered a maintenance item. When I worked at the dealership many RVs would come to us that were only a few years old and, upon detailed inspection, it was clear that water was already getting into the walls and compromising the structure of an RV. What can you do? Here is a list of ways you can prevent water from getting into your RV and causing minor, and even major damage.
A hot, gusty breeze passes by our footsteps, bringing with it needles falling from the giant redwood overhead. We walk through the heart of Library Park, looking for a picnic table safely away from other visitors, two of Juicy’s spectacular pizzas in each hand. The gusty afternoon breeze hasn’t settled down into balmy summer evening just yet; another flurry of wind blows open our pizza box. But slight pink hues in the sky creep over the lake, hinting at a beautiful sunset to come. I flip the pizza box shut, trying to turn it a direction where the wind won’t blow it open again. “Congratulations on your first six months as Poet Laureate,” David says, then takes a large bite of pizza. Georgina smiles, pulling back her hair from her face as another breeze brushes by us.
Even though it’s 8:30, the night is still warm. The clear, Lake County sky has turned burgundy-purple, while the large, white movie screen nestles between the sunset and mountains. The dazzling light of the projector illuminates the darkness as moths flick between its rays. “Lakeport Auto Movies” shines across the screen, a crescent moon cradling the words. “DRIVE IN MOVIES” stretches out underneath. It’s a summer night at the movies. Every night the Drive-In has a double-feature on the big screen. And since COVID-19 happened, it’s a great way to get out for a late night in the summer, when late nights are the best time to be outdoors.
Warm summer nights are the absolute best. Watch the sun drift lazily toward the horizon while dusk paints the twilight as only it can. Listen as the sounds of day quiet and dissolve into the starry night. Stay outside late, and let the lingering warmth wrap you in comfort. These long days are a gift meant to feed your soul.
The building first came to life in 1941, during the Second World War, when cars with rounded fenders and swooping hoods drove up and down Main Street, and people still came into town on their horses. The bottom floor houses a couple of shops that front the street, their full windows looking out on the tree-edged sidewalk. Pumpkin-orange in color and black-trimmed, the building’s rectangular form stands a full head above the market to its left and Smiling Dogs Winery to its right. There, in the left-hand corner, a small, black door stands, unobtrusively and easily missed. On the eave above it, a section of an old pear box hangs, “Suite On Main” stenciled in its worn, weathered wood. Open the door, and a steep set of stairs immediately rises, forcing the head to look upwards. Then down the hall, and it’s the first door on the right. Welcome to The Loft at Suite on Main.
Do you build bridges or walls? Pause to consider this question carefully. Do you look for opportunities to do small acts of kindness that positively impact the lives of those around you? Or are you focused on finding the negative? Either way, I promise you will find what you look for. Take the time to bridge gaps, and build common ground. We need each other, now more than ever.
Driving my Jeep from Witter Springs to Lakeport, on my way to my monthly support group at the Pizza palace on Eleventh Street, I had a crackerjack of an idea. First off, let me tell you the support group meets once a month every Thursday in the back room of the Pizza Palace. Naturally, everybody buys something for lunch. It may be anything from a slice of good Pizza to a Veggie plate. I usually get the Veggie palate and load up. It’s a good way to get my veggie vitamins and keeps me cranking full speed ahead. Once everyone has arrived, we talk.
Reflection is the process of embracing stillness, and going within to listen to our own innate wisdom. Such introspection often leads to inspiration; those “ah ha” moments that give us clarity. We are conduits for our experiences on a daily basis. Take some time today to pause, consider, and reset. Then go back out into the world with renewed insight and let your light shine.
Dust billows from our feet as we step out of the car. Sun glimmers through the oak leaves above; a retired trolley car rests nearby. We leisurely follow the path towards the barn, pausing to look at the various farm equipment, buggies, wagons, carts and stagecoaches that seem to appear everywhere. I have the distinct […]
Taking a strategic approach to moving your property just makes good common sense. Each property is unique and presents its own challenges when you make that decision to sell. In fact, deciding to market the property at a measurable future date gives you the time it takes to do it right. It’s a bitter pill to just put it out there and hope for the best, then learn that there is a viable list of shoulda, coulda…
We want to thank you for being a part of our vision. It’s you, our readers, who make what we do possible. And we’re succeeding! In our first two years, we’ve shared our vision with over 104 countries and tens of thousands of different people. However, our mission still needs some love to grow. With your support, we can add more columns, write more restaurant reviews, profile more of our best businesses, and showcase the tremendous outdoor opportunities our county has to offer. That’s why we’ve set up an option to support The Bloom financially. It’s a great way to help promote our positive message and further The Bloom’s vision. We’ve set up donations to be simple: starting at $5/month, you can help us move forward. Once you donate, then comes the fun part: watching us grow. The Bloom has lots of plans in the works, and your support will allow them to become a reality. We believe that when we help each other, we will all succeed. Financially supporting The Bloom will not just help us grow; it will also help our local economy, as we are all about encouragine local businesses. We are a community-focused organization, and none of our efforts would be possible without the help of people and businesses like you. Your support is greatly appreciated and will make a difference. Thank you for being a part of our community and our story. TO SUPPORT THE BLOOM, VISIT http://www.lakecountybloom.com/support
If you’ve driven Highway 20 to Ukiah, you’ve passed by Blue Lakes, two connected bodies of water that shine like jewels in the crack of the mountains. It’s easy to get distracted as driving by the crystal-clear waters that mirror the sky above them. During COVID-19, there are so many things we can’t do, but whether you’re local to Lake County or just visiting, one experience you can’t miss is to take a boat out on the lakes. Once you’re out on the water, you’ll understand the magic. First of all, Blue Lakes is deep. Really deep. As the electric boat pulls away from the dock, it’s like gliding out onto an emerald green abyss. Sun shines into the water, its rays stretching down into the depths. Even though it has four resorts on it, Blue Lakes is largely unpopulated, which means that there are plenty of places to stretch out and enjoy the sunshine and nature. A gentle breeze picks up every afternoon, which make drifting a delight. Start at the narrows, put the boat in neutral, and feel the wind slowly push the boat down the lake. Now’s a good time to hop into the cool, crisp water. As you jump in, you open your eyes; the underwater world glows green, the bubbles winding upward. It’s silent and soothes the skin like silk.