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Redbud: A Prized Tree

The western, or California redbud, or Cercis orbiculata, is in the legume family and reaches a height of about 20 feet where it grows in pine forests, riparian and oak woodlands, and in poor soils. Since it is a drought-tolerant plant, it is well adapted for California. The redbud has been, and still is, a key plant for Indigenous culture for centuries. It has been utilized by dozens of Native groups, or tribes as a plant of significance in basket weaving. Tribal elders speak of redbud’s use over its lifespan when the trees are maintained, cared for, and pruned regularly in order that they produce long, fresh sprouts for switches in basket making. This practice also assures that the plants grow and thrive with fewer scars.

Metamorphosis In The Oaks: The 2022 Catfish Derby

On the shores of our highly productive ancient lake, the little town of Clearlake Oaks transforms once a year when the best catfishing tournament west of the Mississippi draws hundreds of fishing enthusiasts and their families into town for the ever-popular Catfish Derby. The traffic along state highway 20 through the Clearlake Oaks community gets heavy at times but increases substantially at Derby time as trucks hauling fishing boats line up to check in for the 3-day Derby. “It gets pretty congested, but nobody complains,” said Dennis Locke, the Catfish Derby Committee Chairman. “It’s like a festival setting in any small rural town, where people gather and excitement builds in anticipation of a grand finale. In the case of the Derby, the grand finale occurs on the last day at noon, when the announcement ceremony draws a huge crowd.”

Lake County Music Guide – 5.12.22

This week’s activities should run the gamut between Shredding and a Car Show, with lots of live music events scrunched up in between. With Friday, Saturday and Sunday predicting good weather, the outdoor events are stacking up, while the indoor ones are gonna be just as busy. Enough prattle – here’s the live music schedule for the week of May 12th through May 16th…

Lake County’s Newest Farmers’ Market: Clearlake

Clear Lake’s cool water laps gently on the shores of Redbud Park; it’s still too early in the season for the sounds of jet skis and wakeboarders. Soon they’ll be here too, but not today. The shores are calm and quiet as people and vessels come and go from the boat launch.  A warm, gentle breeze blows, reminding me that summer is not far away. A short distance from the water, a large circle of pop-up canopies form a large ring in the massive parking lot, separating themselves from the boat traffic nearer the water. This circle is why we are here—to visit Lake County’s newest Farmers Market. 

Small Town Ceramics: Take a Break from it All

Small Town Ceramics is a small, local business where people can paint pre-made ceramics and they do the firing. A person can come in, look around the shelves, find something that speaks to them, paint it then have it fired. I did that exact thing, still looking through the overwhelmingly many choices ranging from ceramic animals, bowls, platters, mugs, and more, waiting for an unpainted ceramic to speak to me. After some time searching, I found it: two little turtles. 

Western Pond Turtles: They’re Back

A late winter walk along some of Lake County’s creeks, ponds wetlands, and lakes may reward you with sightings of the only native freshwater turtle along the west coast region of the United States on down to Baja California. This once-prolific reptile is a slow-mo treat to watch as it s-l-o-w-l-y emerges from Cache Creek to sun itself upon a long, warm log. There it will sit, striking a pose until- kerplunk! It takes a turtle leap into the water until the perceived threat has passed.

Take a Drive in Lake County

It’s springtime; the birds are back and busy building nests, the wildflowers are blooming, and the weather’s getting warm. There’s no better time to take a road trip around Lake County. If you’ve got a free day, hop in the car and enjoy some of the county’s most beautiful, unique, and tasty places.

Take a Walk: Anderson Marsh State Park

Anderson Marsh State Historic Park resides just off Highway 53 in Clearlake and across the street from the Walmart. The highway busily passes around the park’s edge, but once you step into the parking lot, all that disappears. Next to the parking lot stand several outbuildings and the original farmhouse that J.M. Grigsby and his brother built in the 1860s. You may be familiar with the Grigsby Riffle, the rock located at the conjunction of Cache and Siegler Creeks that determines zero Rumsey of the lake. And, if you’re a history buff, you’ll know that the same J.M. Grigsby, along with a mob of people, tore down the dam built there in 1868. 

“We Only Have the Fun We Start Ourselves”: Six Sigma Ranch and Winery’s Cave Painting

There’s nothing new about celebrating wine and art together. It’s been a uniquely human experience since the beginning of time. And today is no exception. A warm, gentle spring breeze and bright orange-yellow California poppies welcome us as we head towards Six Sigma Ranch and Winery’s wine cave. To the left, winery equipment rests for the time being, while the vines are just beginning the hard work of producing this season’s harvest. Ahead, friends gather in conversation on the broad concrete patio outside the cave’s large open doors. Inside, a table lines one wall, filled with various hors-d’oeuvres, wine, and chocolate. Rows of full barrels fill the back of the cave. Their contents perfume the air, a reminder that this is a working wine cave. And to the right, the recent artwork of Ben vanSteenburgh covers the wall, reaching far into the depths of the cave. It’s the reason for this celebration.

Obsidian Use in Lake County’s Indigenous Cultures

The formation of Lake County’s obsidian gave the Indigenous people here material for innumerable tools and trade items. Anthropologists called the villages which once lined lakes, streams, and valleys here for thousands of years in what is now Lake County ‘city states’. Then, the Pomo, Wappo, Miwok, Yuki, and Patwin peoples thrived here. Famed anthropologist A. L. Kroeber described this area as one of the most diverse cultural areas in all of the United States.

Take a Drive in Lake County, Part 3: Upper Lake to Lower Lake

Yup, it’s springtime, and Lake County is at its most beautiful. The fruit trees are blossoming and people wander around humming, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Yes, it’s that kind of beautiful. There’s no better time to hop in the car and enjoy a tour of one of the world’s beautiful places.

The Day My Mother’s Vanity Thickened My Skin and Why You Should Never Take Yourself Too Seriously

Sometimes in this life we encounter individuals, often family, that challenge our patience and attempt to hurt our feelings; without meaning to do so. We can maintain a healthy balance in our minds by understanding those who have good intentions and also removing those from our elevator that are toxic. Know the difference. Life is short and your peace matters.

Take a Drive in Lake County, Part 2: Kelseyville Riviera to Lakeport

One of the best parts about Lake County is that there’s so much to explore. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, there’s something new to discover. Around each corner of the road, there’s another hidden gem just waiting to be found. This is part two of our road trip. Today we get to enjoy some great views of Mt. Konocti and the Clearlake arm of North America’s oldest lake, then spend some time shopping in two unique towns.

Lake County’s Tiny Jewel: Blue Lakes

Blue Lakes, are actually two lakes along Highway 20 in beautiful Upper Lake. Tiny in proportion to Clear Lake, Upper Blue Lake and its sister, Lower Blue Lake add another dimension to Lake County’s natural beauty. As you pull off of the highway along Cold Creek Canyon the beauty of this steep and wooded mountain landscape shows off its 2 miles of lakes that attain a width of 650 feet. The twin lakes differ from Clear Lake in more than size. Since they are not nutrient-rich, they do not contain the varied plant life that thrives in shallow, eutrophic Clear Lake. Here is where quiet prevails in the unspoiled environment since no motorboats are allowed. You may, instead, opt for paddle boats, kayaks or electric pontoon boats.

Take a Drive in Lake County, Part 1: Middletown to Kelseyville Riviera

It’s springtime; the birds are back and busy building nests, the wildflowers are blooming, and the weather’s getting warm. There’s no better time to take a road trip around Lake County. If you’ve got a free day, get in the car and enjoy some of the county’s most beautiful, unique, and tasty places. Part one wanders from Middletown, up and over Cobb, until it winds up in the Kelseyville Riviera, edged up against the side of Mt. Konocti. Come take a ride with us.

Why Unconditional Love is Priceless: by Lori Armstrong

The lessons of life were once again authentically thrown in front of my face. Life is short. I stopped worrying about the small things that stole my joy. I found my peace again in what matters the most. I now believe that if worrying did any good, I’d be the first to do it. There is a lesson to be learned from every struggle, if you allow yourself to see past the misery. Your challenges in life will never end. You merely learn how to overcome the misery. I believe we all have been given an opportunity to share a challenge with others, who may have lost hope or lost their way.

Weaving Together the MAC and the Community

It’s a bright early Spring Saturday morning in Middletown. The warmish-cool breeze blows through the open doors of the MAC. Inside, the bright white-washed walls hold ever-changing themed art. The floor’s filled with chairs and people of all ages and backgrounds. It’s what art in any community does; it brings people together. David and I quietly find a seat in the back of the room and settle in. There’s a spirit of anticipation and expectation, but not like you would find at an art show. No, this is different. This is a calling to learn something both new and ancient, holy and practical. Quiet expectation fills the room.

Lessons from the River Otter

I inhaled the scent of the rich riparian setting which always enlivens me with its vegetal and true terrestrial perfume. I did not wait long, when an ever-growing string of bubbles erupted from beneath the water, then, as if by magic a river otter poked its head above the water’s rim with a fish in its mouth! It sidled aboard a large branch protruding from the center of the water-way and gnawed on its catch. Next, it proceeded with its catch under the waters as I watched its bubble-trail once again, which led to the shore this time. The midmorning sun shone on its silky fur and dripped to the muddy shore, as it continued consuming its prey. Next, to my delight, a  Great blue heron that had been standing just ‘off stage’, began to slowly sidle up to the river otter as though to say, “Don’t mind me, I’ll just help myself to some of what you’re having!” But the river otter wanted no part of that scenario, and promptly took his now half-devoured fish back to the watery depths, choosing to dine on the privacy of the big branch.

Some Great News: The First Sunday Jam is Back!

Technically, the First Sunday Jam is an open mic, but don’t for a second think it’s the kind with poorly played guitar riffs sung by tone-deaf singers. Nope. This jam is made for musicians. John wanted a chance to play more with his friends, so he decided to schedule it on Sunday, the one day of the week that hardly ever has music scheduled. And every musician in the county knows about it. In one night, the ever-changing band will play classic rock, blues, jazz, a bit of reggae, fusion, and original tunes. It’s like visiting every musical event in Lake County at once.

Therapeutic Fantasy of Mine, or What I Learned from the Wizard of Oz

When someone said I lived in a fantasy world, I nearly fell off my unicorn. As a child, fantasy became the barrier between my peace and unpleasant realities that threatened my happiness. I powered my fantasy thoughts as a weapon against unpleasant notions, fears, bullies; you name it, my childhood imagination helped me ride the wave. Being an adult now, I understand that children tend to gravitate toward what makes them feel good, what takes the worries away. As a woman in my fifties, I am hopelessly committed to remaining young at heart. My first cherished book was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum.

Boggs Ridge Nature Trail: The Little Park Behind Cobb Elementary – By Kathleen Scavone

A weekend walk in the woods along the Boggs Ridge Nature Trail is always a treat. Not to be confused with the nearby, but much larger Boggs Mountain Demonstration State Forest, this little park is situated behind Cobb Elementary School in a quiet woodland of around 50 acres. It is located within the Putah and Cache Creek Watersheds, and is a living outdoor classroom to the fortunate school children up here. Pine perfumes the air creating a sort of live incense, while underfoot a cushion of pine needles absorbs sound to render this walk hushed and cathedral-like in its ambiance.

The Story of David and Christy Brown: Susie Q’s and Sweet Pea’s

It’s a clear Lake County winter morning. The morning sun glints down off Susie Q’s Donuts and Espresso, reflecting off the building. It’s a hard place to miss; the bright pink paint draws the eyes immediately. Step inside, and, depending on the time of day, the smell of donuts, bacon, or coffee fills the building. The same pink that covers the outside continues indoors. Dark wood floors and tables contrast the bright walls, and country music comes through the speakers, creating an inviting atmosphere. It’s a place to come, grab a donut or sandwich, and sit down to enjoy them over a cup of coffee.

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