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.
It’s early Saturday evening in Lake County, and there are more things going on than a person can possibly fit into one evening. The solution? Pick a general area in the county; if you plan it right, you can party-hop all night long. It goes without saying that the best parties start with a designated driver. After you’ve figured that out, let the fun begin!
Join The Middletown Art Center (MAC) for their second annual JUNETEENTH Celebration– featuring live music, local artists, delicious food, and beverages on June 19th from 7-10 pm. Celebrate emancipation, freedom, and triumph through the power of the arts with yet another amazing night of live music and dance, outdoors at the MAC. It’s a great way to celebrate with your favorite Dad, too, as Father’s Day and Juneteenth fall on the same day this year!
It has long been a dream of the Lake County Land Trust (LCLT) and local citizens to place directional signs at the summit of Rabbit Hill to point out each significant peak in the panoramic 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains, including St. Helena, Cobb, and Harbin. On a recent Saturday morning, the signage project was started with the help of Hidden Valley Lake resident Jean Goulart, who has become a volunteer for the LCLT and will be overseeing the Rabbit Hill Park.
Once you’ve passed the heart of Middletown and are working your way towards the winding roads of St. Helena, you’ll pass by La Parrilla Grill. You might not notice it right away, but it’s there on the right side of the road. If you pass The Geysers Visitor Center, you’ve gone too far. La Parrilla’s part taco stand, part restaurant, and is filled with incredible Mexican food. And Lake County’s full of good Mexican joints. But here, you’ll find unique, homestyle dishes you won’t find anywhere else.
The Middletown Art Center (MAC) presents “Indigenous Poetics,” a poetry reading event hosted by Lake County Poet Laureate Georgina Marie Guardado on Saturday, June 4th, 2022 from 4-6 p.m. The public is invited to join Georgina Marie and guests at the MAC or on Zoom.
Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) held a virtual reception with students from California’s Fifth District who submitted pieces of art to his 2022 Congressional Art Competition. At the reception, Thompson celebrated all of the artists and announced the finalists from each county and the grand prize winner alongside a panel of judges.
The floral design class from the Middletown High School will present colorful flowered wreaths in honor of our Veterans who have given so much for our Country.
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.
The chartered tour bus winds up the mountain, swings around switchbacks, and groans against the steep grade before pulling out on a ridgeline that workers call the North Slope, referring to how cold it gets in the winter when the wind blows. Right now the clouds rest below the tops of the surrounding mountains, dropping a mist that promises to turn into full-blown rain. Tim Conant, Calpine’s Director of Engineering, steps out of the bus first, followed by Danielle Matthews Seperas, Director of Government and Community Affairs. Both hunch their shoulders against the breeze and walk to the edge of the ridgeline. Just below, one of many geothermal power plants hums away, turning treated recycled water into electricity.
“When you flush a toilet in Clearlake Oaks, we pipe it up here inject it,” Tim Conant explained earlier at the visitor’s center located in Middletown. He pointed at a large, lit model stretching across the wall. “We get about eight million gallons a day from Lake County and twelve and a half million from Santa Rosa.”
Edgar Bonilla and Antonio Sanchez sit at one of the picnic tables stretched under a large tent. Edgar’s just lit a propane heater, and the warmth heats the chill from the morning air. Both bring their own energy to the table; Edgar’s bright, friendly, and warm. Antonio’s reserved, thoughtful, and competent. And they’re comfortable in each other’s company; they’ve worked together for over fifteen years in Napa restaurants. And they’ve come together to make some spectacular food at Los Compas.
It was a spontaneous stop. I happened to already be in Middletown with some time to spare when I remembered a little shop I wanted to check out for a potential Bloom review. That’s when I met Ellen Munk, co-owner of Middletown Florist and Gifts, standing behind the florist desk cleaning up the last bit of greenery from a bouquet.
“Welcome!” came her greeting. “Feel free to look around and let me know if you have any questions,” she said, moving back to the front of the shop. The unmistakable smell of fresh-cut flowers filled the room.
Reuben and Kassie Koontz moved back to Lake County in 2015 after living in Santa Rosa for years. There, Reuben did high-end autobody work and made great money. But they wanted a different, more rural lifestyle. So Kassie moved back home to Middletown, where her family has lived for four generations. There, she and Reuben created Koontz Mercantile, an eclectic shop filled with all kinds of cool stuff.
And ‘cool’ is the right word. The place has an aura of hipness. A surfboard serves as a shelf in the outdoor room, while a bicycle turned into a side table sits underneath rows of aprons filled with different sayings. “Shut up Liver, You’re Fine,” one reads.
Join the MAC this Saturday, September 25th, from 6:00-8:00pm for a hybrid opening reception of LIGHT in-person at the MAC or live-streamed on Zoom. Conversations with artists begin at 6:30. The exhibit speaks to the theme of Light through diverse materials and content. It features work by five artists new to MAC alongside longtime MAC gallery artists and includes Aimee Marcinko’s multi-sensory interactive installation.
The Middletown Art Center is celebrating its seventh year by officially becoming MAC For Lake County, the County’s premier contemporary art destination. Join this historic moment at the MAC For Lake County launch event on October 9th, 4:30pm to 7pm, at MAC, or from home on Zoom.
The Rotary Club of Middletown announces its 2021-2022 president, Dennis Skinner, and new meeting time and location. Meetings will be held on Thursday mornings at Twin Pine Casino in the Private Dining Room at 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Pre-Covid, the club met at the Greenview Restaurant in Hidden Valley Lake.
This year the Middletown Art Center celebrates seven years of serving Lake County and is doing so by transforming into the MAC. The MAC for Lake County! As part of this growth, the MAC is calling everyone (artist or not) to help visualize their future with an art competition for a new logo. First place prize is $500! After popular demand, the deadline has been extended to September 24th, 2021.
Family Support Center Clothing Closet in Middletown needs donations to help recent fire survivors. They are taking clothing and shoe donations for their open closet in order to supply recent fire survivors and their children with clothing. They are in big need of infant and children’s clothes, boys and girls of all sizes. Any women’s and men’s clothing is also accepted. If you would like to donate other items, please call first. (707)987-9601. Located at 21389 Stewart St. #E, Middletown, Ca.
In honor of Juneteenth, Freedom Day, the Middletown Art Center joined with several Lake County musicians, performers, and chefs this past weekend to celebrate the newly established national holiday. The evening’s events began in the back studio of the MAC as an intimate group of guests listened to an on-stage conversation between Clovice Lewis, musician, composer, and educator who shared his story of music, race, and social justice with host Sabrina Klein. Lewis graciously expressed his love for playing the cello and the genre he coined “Jazzical,” jazz and classical style combinations, both of which were major influences in his past.
Gehlen Palmer, longtime resident and former Middletown Librarian is this year’s Middletown Days Pioneer award recipient. Palmer didn’t set out to be a librarian, he originally wanted to go into science, but, “Math,” he says, “was the issue.” Born in 1947 in San Francisco, his formative years were spent around his father’s family who were readers and former teachers. He recalls driving his grandmother nuts by asking her to read Ferdinand, and Dr. Seuss’s Bartholomew and the Oobleck over and over again.
On Friday, May 28th, Hope City officially finished their work rebuilding homes for the Valley Fire survivors, and hosted an open house to celebrate the occasion. For all of the work they’ve done for Lake County residents, they have been selected as the Middletown Days Grand Marshal for the 60th Annual Middletown Days Parade.
Perry’s Deli is currently owned by Derrick and Courtney Fiske. Derrick is a 3rd generation owner who took over from his parents in 2019. I had a chance to talk with him on the phone a few days earlier, and knew that I was in for good food. Derrick explains that his father’s motto is “quality, quality, quality.” Derrick’s grandfather, he says, is “an old-school deli guy who emphasized specific measurements.” The family is no stranger to the deli business as they opened up Novato Perry’s years ago and Middletown in 1992.
We spot Ben Hittle as we walk into the Farmers’ Market in Middletown. He stands underneath a gigantic oak tree, sunglasses pulled up onto the striped beanie pulled tight on his head. He’s selling trees. “It’s a cedar,” he tells us, his blonde goatee framing his smile, “and it can only be found in two places in Lake County. It’s an endangered species.” “That’s incredible,” I reply. “What type of cedar is it? “I don’t know,” he responds. “I’ve looked for hours and spent way too much time on the phone trying to figure it out. Nobody knows. No,” he pauses. “Somebody knows. I’ll find them.”
While unloading disposable surgical masks and hand sanitizers for Middletown area small businesses and nonprofits recently, we asked Chanele Hellwege why she started her shipping, packing and vehicle registration business on Hwy 175 in Middletown, she responded, “See a need, fill a need.” And that is how Middletown Mail and More got started.
It’s seven o’clock in Middletown, California. The sun has just set, leaving its last beams to stretch across the rugged Mayacamas Mountains. As the last glimmer of purple eases from the ridges of Mount St. Helena, the lights around Twin Pine Casino begin to glimmer.
Located approximately thirty minutes north of Calistoga and just south of Middletown, a rural town with an incredible art gallery and spectacular Thai food, Twin Pine has been a part of the Middletown community for decades. It hosts free Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, supports the local community, and serves as an evacuation center during fires.
And, like everyone else, Twin Pine has had to adapt. Following the COVID shut down in March, Twin Pine made some large adjustments to ensure that the guests were safe when they visited.