What’s Up This Week – 9.2.22

Whether we like it or not, this weekend marks the end of summer and the start of fall. I always have mixed feelings when Labor Day rolls around. I love summer and all of its distractions. It’s always a fun challenge to see how much fun we can fit into those summer months. But, I also love transitioning into cooler weather and all things pumpkins and autumn. What I love most about September in Northern California is the chance to fit in the extra summer things. Whether it’s a BBQ with friends, a quick trip to the ocean, more time at the pool, or kayaking and bird watching, the weather is more than accommodating. How lucky we are. This week we’re excited to announce the winners of our Second Annual Poetry of the Outliers Competition! Be sure to read the winning poem below. Also, we can’t wait to tell you about the first Blackberry Harvest  Dinner. The plan was to include the Festival all in one article, but that dinner was too special not to have its own feature article. If you couldn’t make it this year, mark your calendar for the last Friday in August, and you’ll be glad you did. Next week, we’ll wrap things up with a piece on the Festival. Lake County has a lot going on this weekend! I hope you have time for the Fair. Be sure to check out the Big Calendar to see what’s going on each day. There’s live music all weekend long, and let’s not forget about the boat races–you’re missing out if you haven’t seen them. And Saturday, the Lakeport Auto Movies celebrate National Cinema Day with $3 everything. How fun is that? Enjoy your holiday weekend Lake County!

Dining Under the Pines: The Blackberry Harvest Dinner

A curious stillness rests between the shadows and light filtering through the pine and oak trees in the heart of Whispering Pines Resort. Just beyond the banner reading “Blackberry Harvest Dinner,” rest two set rows of tables set with linen tablecloths with fresh flowers from Bell Haven Flower Farm perched on them. Pine and oak branches stretch across the open spaces on this breezeless night. Lights reach between them, setting the evening’s delicate mood. The fading day reflects the last effervescent hues of sunlight. It’s almost a fairytale image: pixies could emerge from the surrounding forest any minute. It’s a magical night worth celebrating. Tomorrow marks the Second Annual Blackberry Cobbler Festival, postponed for two years due to Covid. The anticipation is overwhelmingly joyful in the faces of tonight’s guests. 

Our Golden Neighbor

One of the many benefits of getting out and about in our wild county is, you can take a walk in the same locality but have a different experience each time. Each season in any of our parks and wild lands paints a new color palette, from the new green growth after the rains to the Technicolor birds and blooms that are set upon Lake County’s stage in spring and summer months. I can’t count how many inspiring hikes I’ve taken at Anderson Marsh State Historic Park, but I’ve only been privy to sighting the majestic golden eagle a couple of times so far.

Small Town Partying: Kelseyville’s Kickin’ It in the Country

It’s a hot August evening in Kelseyville. The lingering summer’s heat is settling in. Off in the distance, Mt. Konocti stands tall, long evening shadows reaching toward it. But this isn’t your typical Thursday night in this small town. A barricade crosses Main Street, temporarily closing through traffic between 2nd and 3rd Street. But this closed block is far from empty. At Main and 2nd, a large stage is set for tonight’s Kickin’ it in the Country, a monthly Kelseyville tradition from June to September every summer. Lawn chairs sit in the shady spots on the street where cars typically park. Kids run across the yellow painted lines, reveling in their freedom. Nearer to the stage, a growing crowd sways to Dave Broida and the Blues Farm, tonight’s opening act. But that isn’t for a while, so there’s still plenty of time to grab a bite to eat before the party gets started.

Ants In My Pants

As I toiled under the shade of the obliging oak and manzanita trees weeding invasive broom, I inadvertently disturbed a thriving, boiling ant colony. The earth beneath the leaf litter appeared to ramp up into hyper-mode with seemingly thousands of critters swarming, scurrying, and crawling on my boots, pants, and shirt! Needless to say, this, in turn caused me to go into my own hyper-mode as I unlaced my boots, flung my shirt aside and swatted the swarm making its way up and into my pants! I was grateful the alarmed ants didn’t bite, and that there are plenty of creatures for birds and other so-inclined wildlife to consume. As the frenzied ants were swarming, it seemed as though all 12,000 species in the world were intent on inhabiting my clothing.

Window on Lake County: Making Fire Risk Reduction a Priority

Evidence of long ago wildfires sweeping the Artic left behind a charcoal soil layer documenting events of three million years ago; give or take a few. Temperatures might have been 20F higher than today and thick forests spread further to the North. It looks like we’re in for a repeat, as this past year, Arctic fires burned in Greenland. This was not uncommon as 50,000 acres were burned in Alaska and 708,000 acres of forest blackened in Northern Russian forests. Of course, today we don’t have the mammoths, camels and giant sloths from that earlier period. But that’s another story.  

Camping in Lake County, Part 3: Boondocking

We unpacked like camping pros and settled in for the afternoon. We had spectacular views, friendly neighbors, the chirping of birds, and all the sunshine we could possibly want. In fact, we had more sunshine than we wanted. Turns out, our perfect campsite came with full sun exposure, and we were sweating ourselves silly. Never mind. We can handle this, we praised ourselves as we shuffled our chairs down to the beach to find some shade. Then the unmistakable sound of a hum filled my ears. Our neighbors had a generator! It would seem we had once again not thought of every contingency. Why didn’t we bring ours? Across the way, fellow campers had their own 10×10 pop-up tent and a small pool to cool their feet in. Camping envy rose again. It would seem, no matter how prepared we were, we’d never think of every contingency.

The Science of Awe

Who would have guessed that the feeling of awe is now analyzed by scientists and can stem from such disparate events or activities such as a mind-blowing experience to a fine work of art, an idea raised in a great speech or nature’s grandeur? It really isn’t too difficult to find something to become awe-struck by in Lake County, whether it is the striking glitter of a hummingbird’s feathers or the gleam of a gopher snake as it slithers into the sunlight for warmth.

Shakespeare at the Lake This Weekend!

Shakespeare at the Lake is back, and it’s better than ever! I’m not a Shakespeare kinda gal. I’m always up for a musical, but Shakespeare…not so much. I have to tell you, I absolutely loved this year’s show “12th Night.”  And, of all the Shakespeare at the Lake productions I’ve seen, I found it to be the best one yet.

Camping in Lake County, Part 2: Pine Acres Blue Lakes Resort

After two trips to Clear Lake Campgrounds and with the help of multiple Amazon orders and a trip to Costco, we felt more than prepared for our next camping trip. Dare I say, we felt even a bit cocky when we pulled into Pine Acres Resort at Blue Lakes. David hooked us up with all our new gadgets. We had the water filter, the surge protector, and the blocks for leveling the trailer. He even packed a level to make sure we were precisely level. No more sink water draining off the counter, and the cabinets will stay open! Next came the color-coordinated rug (gray and white just like our trailer), the appropriate camping chairs, and a tablecloth. Yes, I forgot to mention I forgot a tablecloth on our two previous camping trips. We had to endure nature and all of its droppings as we dined. Sure we cleaned it, but there’s nothing like the psychological battle in your mind of what was there before. But not this time! There was nothing we had forgotten. With towels in hand, we eagerly made our way toward the beach. It was the perfect afternoon on the lake. A warm breeze blew off the water, reminding us that we were still in the heat of the day, making the sapphire lake all the more inviting. That’s when our confidence suddenly waned.

Window on Lake County: Clear Lake’s Incremental Impacts

We’re all aware of the changes in life that go unnoticeable from day to day but can be detected over time. Changes from getting older always come to mind, also wear and tear on the high mileage family car. Something familiar to add to the list is the changes that occur with increasing population leading to increased infrastructure building such as roads, new agriculture, increased well drilling, town development, or the off-road vehicle boom. In the not-so-familiar or obvious category are the unnoticed changes to ecosystems caused by landscape alterations. These incremental changes are often small when they occur but can be considerable when they accumulate. Species becoming endangered is the most notable result.

The Deer Whisperer of Anderson Springs

Mitsy….standing there with her dark blue wide-brimmed hat shielding her from the sun, impenetrable sunglasses which make it hard to truly connect with her, is talking to me? Speaking with me? Talking at me? I would say it is a conversation, except that there are not many spaces to make a full reply. There are moments of pause, silence just enough to get in a funny agreeable remark or two. Still, it is fully enjoyable on my end, if not like being part of a movie scene in which I am faintly a part of but mostly watching.

Camping in Lake County, Part 1: Clear Lake Campground

So we caved and bought a travel trailer like everyone else. Oh, the excitement and expectations that come with such a purchase. We bought enough things to fill a house for this tiny home on wheels. Then we took it out for its maiden voyage at Clear Lake Campground. Lisa Wilson, the second-generation owner of the campground, was celebrating her birthday, and anyone with an RV was invited to stay the night. We had all the confidence in the world that we were more than ready for this trip. Our friends eagerly greeted us when we arrived. David backed that trailer up like a pro as if he’d been doing this all his life. But, unfortunately, that’s when our confidence ended.

A Treasured Keepsake and the Importance for Us All to Create One

My father left us all with a gift. A gift of celebrations we shared, mistakes we made and mistakes made by our ancestors. This treasured keepsake continues to teach me and my children the importance of keeping a journal and leaving a legacy, which can provoke a positive conversation. Although we cannot predict the future, we can certainly try to make the best out of this life and not tread on others.

Lake County Diamonds: Our Unique Gemstone

Dispersed across many of our fields and along roadsides are sparkling Lake County diamonds. They glitter and gleam after a nice rain shower, just begging to be picked up, collected, displayed or even faceted into jewelry. In fact, some local jewelers will facet the diamonds for you to wear. Usually clear, Lake County diamond specimens are sometimes lavender or reddish in color. These beauties, not true diamonds, are considered semi-precious stones, having a rating of 7.8 to 8 on the Moh’s Scale of Hardness. Real diamonds rate a 10. 

Tuleyome Tales: The Story of a Forest Alligator Lizard

As I take a late spring, early morning walk at the edge of the woods not far from the creek in southern Middletown, it feels like a luxury to drink in the sounds of these surroundings. I note the scolding squawks of several blue jays in the oaks. They appear to be distressed at the sight of a pair of crows as they near the jay’s nests. In contrast to the cacophony above, the mellifluous sounds of the creek invite me to come closer. As I arrive at a clearing, a Forest Alligator Lizard is sitting as still as a stone in the sunlight. This is the second one I have seen this month! Wanting to watch this elusive and long-bodied creature I step ever closer.

Bird Nests: Nature’s Intricate Architecture

You have, no doubt seen some of the many tremendous osprey nests throughout the county. There are fine examples of osprey architecture near the roundabout at Hartman Road in Middletown, both Rodman Park and Rodman Slough, Clear Lake State Park, and more. These impressive birds build magnificent structures in which to lay eggs and raise their young. With an unmistakable cry the osprey calls out, then the 26 inches-in-length bird can be viewed at its nest as high as 60 feet above the Earth, where it constructed its nest near a fishing hole.

Dress Me Slowly Because I’m in a Rush

For most of us, when we rush our tasks, they are usually not completed as well as when we take our time. Whether it be taking the kids to school, getting ready for work, writing that essay; we miss key points, lack that polished project, become sloppy and sometimes are even responsible for accidents.

The Many Lives of Lower Lake Historic Schoolhouse Museum

The Lower Lake Historic Schoolhouse Museum’s a place that has lived multiple lives. It first began as a school, built by Leslie Nichols and his brother in 1877. It not only was the only school in the area built from locally fired bricks, but it also was the largest in the county at the time. The school at that time had three classrooms, two large ones on the south end, and one central one, with a large bell tower mounted on the front. Back then, lower Lake wasn’t a sleepy small town; it was an up-and-coming place fighting for its rightful place in the county and, if it weren’t for some foul play on Lakeport’s part, would have ended up the county seat.

Prickles, Thistles, and Foxtail: Taking the Invasive Weed Walk at Anderson Marsh

Since our state enjoys a temperate climate we play host to a variety of plant species, both invasive and native, who also thrive here. Paul Aigner explained, “Most of the state’s grasslands are dominated by non-natives.” He went on with some questions for us that also interest farmers, State Park’s Departments and many others, “How realistic is it to get rid of a particular invasive? How does it reduce biodiversity here?” What helps ranchers may hinder places like parks and preserves. The study of invasives brings up the question of just what defines a weed or a problem plant?

Window on Lake County: Clear Lake – Re-Engineer or Re-Wild? – Part 2

What are those questions that would guide better decision making to a rewilding of the Clear Lake watersheds ecosystems? The first might be to determine how to restore the Middle Creek area to its most effective wetland attributes without creating more problems of flooding or mosquito invasions. Basically, how much landform change is needed to best support the interactions of wildlife, human enjoyment and sediment trapping. Right now the operating principle is to purchase all the land back to a public ownership and only then turn the designing and construction over to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

Never Say This to Someone with Dementia or Alzheimer’s

It was in that moment we all agreed Grandpa needed an immediate medical diagnosis as the dreaded disease reared its ugly head. That same month Grandpa was diagnosed with an early onset of Alzheimer’s; marked by symptoms of dementia, which grew increasingly worse. We gathered mountains of information about the disease, being most grateful for the opportunity to spend time with Grandpa and understand the condition doesn’t change who they are.The positive information that remains vivid in my mind is what NOT to say to someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

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