Archive for December, 2007

At the foot of steps climbing from my parking area to my cabin, a palm tree stands as a memorial to the late conservationist Margot Patterson Doss of Bolinas (1920-2003).

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Margot was a San Francisco Chronicle outdoors columnist, a Bay Area-hikes docent on tv’s Evening Magazine, and an author of 14 books. She was also a member of the California Coastal Commission and a member of the Citizens Advisory Commission to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (which she helped establish) and Point Reyes National Seashore.

The desert palm beside my steps had once been among several Margot was growing at her home. She gave it to me as as an ironic political statement because we shared a distrust of the non-native zealotry of a few folks in West Marin.

100_6433_1.jpgIt seems more than coincidental, for example, that the once-liberal Sierra Club — which has become so anti-immigrant that white-supremacist members in 2004 made a run at taking over the national board — is also hostile to the hundreds of non-native species in the US.

The president of the Marin Group of the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the National Sierra Club is Gordon Bennett, a member of the National Seashore superintendent’s kitchen cabinet. As such, Bennett has become the loudest voice defending the nativistic policies of the Park Service on Point Reyes.

Ironically, non-native Roof rats, such as the one above, were in North America 400 years prior to the founding of the Sierra Club. And European starlings, such as the one below, have been making noise in the US longer than the organization. All three can be annoying, but the Republic will survive.

Conservationist J.L. Hudson, who runs a nonprofit seed bank in La Honda, on his website describes today’s nativistic zealots this way:

It is “ominous… that during Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich, the National Socialists (Nazi Party) had a program to rid the landscape of ‘foreign’ plants. An interesting paper, ‘Some Notes on the Mania for Native Plants in Germany’ by Gert Groening and Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn (Landscape Journal, Vol. II, No. 2, 1992), details this history.

100_5799_1.jpg“The extension of the Nazi pseudoscience of racial purity to the natural world is chillingly identical to the modern anti-exotics agenda, down to the details of ‘genetic contamination.’

“With the current rise of racism, immigrant-scapegoating, and other noxious, unAmerican ideologies, we must be prepared to hold all those who are promoting the anti-exotics frenzy personally responsible for their part in legitimizing a pseudoscience which leads directly to the horrors we saw in the 1940’s.

“Clearly, ‘eco-fascist’ is not too strong a term to describe these people.”

Ask yourself: is Hudson overstating the zealotry? Then look at the next two photos.

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A barely non-native cypress tree? John Sansing was superintendent of the Point Reyes National Seashore from its opening in 1965 until Supt. Don Neubacher succeeded him in 1994. About 40 years ago, Sansing had this Monterey cypress planted at the Abbott’s Lagoon trailhead to soften the stark, industrial appearance of its restrooms and parking lot.

Last summer, Supt. Neubacher had the cypress cut down, and the Park Service explained why in the Aug. 2 West Marin Citizen: “Many have noticed the removal of the lone Monterey cypress at the Abbotts Lagoon trailhead parking. It is a California native species but well out of its range and thus an exotic species for Point Reyes.

“The removal was to prevent additional seeding in an area of traditionally treeless native dunes, which support the snowy plover population, among other reasons.”

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How bizarre! First, as botanists will tell you, relatively few of a cypress’ seeds are viable, and in any case cypress cones often don’t open for years, which is why there was only a “lone Monterey cypress” (according to the Park Service) at the parking lot for 40 years. Monterey cypress simply is not an invasive species, despite what National Seashore staff say.

Second, park staff claimed to have worried that ravens would roost in the trailhead cypress tree before flying off to eat snowy plover eggs and chicks at the beach. The plover nests, however, are more than a mile from the trailhead, and there are plenty of other trees in their vicinity.

Third, the diameter of the cypress tree was 4.5 feet in places, and cutting it down did not make for a more-traditional landscape. Just the opposite. Removal of the large tree left the trailhead’s starkly utilitarian restrooms as a prominent feature of the landscape, along with rows of vehicles in the parking lot.

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A native Pacific tree frog enjoys perching on a non-native bamboo growing in a wine barrel on my deck.

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Native blacktail deer and non-native housecats comfortably coexist hereabouts. The cats, both domestic and feral, do take a toll on birdlife, but the park isn’t about to start shooting cats.

100_5012.jpgPossums are native to the Deep South but not California although they’ve been in the Bay Area for a century. Tourists don’t take particular notice of possums, so the park leaves them alone even though possums eat native birds’ eggs, frogs, and berries.

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100_0904_11.jpgRed foxes, like Monterey cypress, are native to California, but here again the park considers them 75 miles or so out of range on Point Reyes. Supt. Neubacher, however, has yet to announce any fox hunts. Nor are the park’s non-native muskrats being trapped.

With innumerable non-native species in and on the edge of the Point Reyes National Seashore, which ones has the Point Reyes National Seashore chosen to eradicate?

small-herd-inthetrees2.jpgAs it did with the Monterey cypress at the Abbotts Lagoon trailhead, the Point Reyes National Seashore has killed hundreds of white fallow deer and spiral-antlered axis deer because they’re supposedly not part of the “traditional landscape.” (Photo by Janine Warner, founder of DigitalFamily.com)

In short, Point Reyes is being sacrificed to a park administrator whose personal prejudices are reflected in a capricious form of nativism. Supt. Sansing administered a park that had a place for the stately cypress tree, the axis and fallow deer, an oyster company in Drakes Estero. Supt. Neubacher is now reversing significant policies established by his predecessor. Is this going to go on forever? Will each new superintendent redecorate the park to suit his own taste?

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People who work for or with the Point Reyes National Seashore occasionally claim there should be no non-native species in the park because it is not a “zoo” but a nature preserve. In fact, it’s neither.

When the land was being threatened by subdividing and logging, Congress created the park for the benefit of the surrounding urban population. And today, as the park reports, 70 percent of its 2 million annual visitors come from the nine-county Bay Area.

Nor is there any question that Congress intended that much of the park remain grazed pastures filled with non-native species, as a Park Service sign (above) near the cypress’ stump acknowledges.

By tradition, the holidays are a time for seeing old friends and new. Here are some of the visitors I saw over Christmas.

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The population of wild turkeys around my cabin keeps getting higher. Nine toms and 35 hens marched around my fields on Saturday while sentries such as this kept watch from pine trees.

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Newspaperman Ivan Gale, a former reporter for The Point Reyes Light, has been writing for The Gulf News in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, for the past year. Ivan came home for Christmas to visit his parents in Chileno Valley, Mike and Sally Gale, and will move to a newly founded daily newspaper in Abu Dhabi when he returns to the UAE. Here Ivan feeds windfall apples to Lucy the cow, who savors every chomp.
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Although some raccoons can become acclimated to human surroundings, domesticating wild animals is often not good for them and can lead to smoking and drinking. This counter-feral raccoon may have taken up bartending to support a corrupted lifestyle.
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‘Twas the night before Christmas, and thanks to no cats, all the creatures were stirring including these rats. Here two roof rats enjoy a Christmas Eve dinner of birdseed spilled on my deck.

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“I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country,” Benjamin Franklin complained in 1784. “He is a bird of bad moral character… Like those among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor and often very lousy. The turkey… is a much more respectable bird and withal a true original native of America.”

On the other hand, if the turkey and not the bald eagle were our national symbol, would it be unpatriotic to eat drumsticks at Christmas dinner?

100_5938_1.jpgFrom our dinner table to yours, Santa Claws and I wish you a Merry Christmas.

To readers of this blog, I offer the following yuletide greetings, which were forwarded to me by a friend. I would credit the author, but I don’t know who he or she is.

Please accept without obligation, express or implied, these best wishes for an environmentally safe, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, and gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday as practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice (but with respect for the religious or secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or for their choice not to observe religious or secular traditions at all) and further for a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated onset of the generally accepted calendar year (including, but not limited to, the Christian calendar, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures).

The preceding wishes are extended without regard to the race, creed, age, physical ability, religious faith or lack thereof, choice of computer platform, or sexual preference of the wishee(s).

“Simply by being compelled to keep constantly on his guard, a man may grow so weak as to be unable any longer to defend himself.” — Nietzsche
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If bill payments were among the letters this motorist mailed yesterday along Lucas Valley Road, he was risking identity theft, Assemblyman Jared Huffman warns.

A few weeks back Assemblyman Jared Huffman, who represents Marin County and Southern Sonoma County, sent his constituents a flier titled: “Identity Theft… How to Protect Your Privacy.” If I thought Huffman had authored it himself, I would worry that West Marin’s assemblyman suffers from acute paranoia.

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In a section called “How to Reduce Your Risk,” Huffman’s flier’ advises, “Personal information that you should protect include your home address, home telephone number….

“When you pay bills, mail them at a US Postoffice. Do not leave them at your home mailbox, your workplace’s outbox, or even your neighborhood Postal Service mailbox. Neighborhood mailboxes can be burglarized.”

header_c.jpgWow! Our assemblyman (right) is warning Marin County and Southern Sonoma County residents that their street-corner mailboxes are too insecure to be trusted with a PG&E payment. What’s more, he’s saying, people should keep their names and addresses out of the phone book if they want to be safe.

Apparently, thieves have become as thick as they’re said to be. “Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the nation,” Huffman’s flier warns. “Do not carry your… passport… or extra credit cards in your purse or wallet.” Wait a minute! Even in the world’s crime capitals such as Lagos, Nigeria, and Johannesburg, South Africa, we’re expected to carry passports and credit cards. But it’s too risky to do so in Marin County, Petaluma, and Rohnert Park?

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The reason I doubt Huffman authored this fear-mongering is a couple of telltale items in the flier. Immediately below the assemblyman’s name and return address on the cover is an odd offer to be coming from a legislator: “Free Credit Report. See inside for details.” Inside the flier, residents are advised to “report [identity] fraud to the three major credit bureaus.”

As can be seen in the unfolded flier above, addresses and phone numbers are given for reporting fraud to Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — and also for ordering credit reports from them. That the flier was mailed at taxpayer expense is obvious, but why my copy was also addressed to my former wife, who lives in Guatemala and is not a US citizen, is something of a mystery.

Two weeks after receiving Huffman’s warnings, I received yet another, this one from the CPA who prepares my income taxes. “We are contacting you about a potential problem involving identity theft,” the CPA’s letter began. “Our office was burglarized. No client files were stolen, but our computer server and a locked briefcase (which appeared to, but did not, hold a laptop computer) were stolen…. We advise that you file a Fraud Alert on your social security numbers by Calling TransUnion Credit Bureau at 800 680-7289.

Why, that was also the phone number on Huffman’s flier, so I called it and requested a Fraud Alert be placed on my Social Security number (should anyone else try to use it to open a credit account). TransUnion said I didn’t need to notify the other two credit bureaus. It would do it for me. I subsequently received a letter from TransUnion asking me to send verification that I am who I say I am. It also offered me a free credit report and — for only $7.95 — a look at my “credit score.”

Okay, so the rest was a come-on to sell $8 credit scores. No wonder the credit bureaus’ fingerprints are all over Huffman’s flier. But no big deal either. Caveat emptor and all that.

What seems more telling is the choice of documents that TransUnion lists as acceptable for verifying a person’s address: a “utility bill, signed lease, canceled check, signed homeless-shelter letter, stamped postoffice-box receipt, prison ID.”

Homeless-shelter letter? Prison ID? It sounds as if credit bureaus hope to see even our street people and San Quentin inmates worried about their credit rating.

A salamander to die for.
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The weekend’s rains have led to the start of an annual migration across my fields. California newts have begun the long trek from the Giacomini family’s stockpond just east of my pasture to Tomasini Creek a third of a mile to the west.

Newts travel so slowly they’re easy to catch, but if you do, wash you’re hands afterward. This salamander’s skin secretes a neurotoxin, tetrodotoxin, that is “hundreds of times more toxic than cyanide,” Wikipedia reports. It’s the same toxin found in the internal organs of Puffer fish — the one that each year kills a few daring diners in Japan who eat incorrectly prepared chiri (puffer-fish soup) or sashimi fugo (raw puffer fish).

California newts, which are found mainly along the coast and in the Sierra, have a mating season that runs from December to May. For their aquatic courtship, adult newts return to the pool where they hatched. It’s an eye-nose-and-throat foreplay. After they swim in a mating dance, the San Diego Natural History Museum notes, “the male will mount the female and rub his chin over the female’s nose.”

Occasionally, several males try to mate with a female at once and end up in a ball, rolling around in the water. Although newts are amphibians, females have been known to suffocate in these orgies.

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A guineafowl surprised motorists and pedestrians late Sunday afternoon by wandering around the south end of Point Reyes Station’s main street. When I first spotted the Helmeted guineafowl, it was pecking on the sidewalk and in the grass between the Coastal Marin Real Estate and West Marin Medical Center buildings.

The bird subsequently stopped traffic by standing on the main street for a while. It later paused to reconnoiter while in the middle of the intersection in front of Whale of a Deli. Intrigued by the non-native species, Highway 1 motorists patiently waited until the guineafowl decided which way to go next. One merchant tried to herd it (flock it?) off the roadway but was only temporarily successful.

Guineafowl “eat lice, worms, ants, spiders, weeds, ticks etc.,” Wikipedia notes, so having one roaming around town was probably all to the good.

The partridge-like bird is native to Africa, so I contacted Jack Long, who raises exotic fowl at Creekside Birds along the levee road not far away. From my photo, Jack was able to confirm the bird is indeed a guineafowl but said it does not belong to him. Jack noted I was the second person to ask whether it was his bird but added that he’d stopped raising guineafowl long ago because they’re so noisy (his birdcages are next to his house). Jack told me he doesn’t know of anyone in town now raising guineafowl.

Update as of Tuesday: Neighbor George Stamoulis told me yesterday that he’d just seen a guineafowl at Millerton Point. Neighbor Skip Shannon, a hunter and field-trial competitor, added that hunters sometimes use guineafowl in training their dogs although he doesn’t. And biologist Russell Ridge of Inverness Ridge (“no relation”) told me that anyone who hunts guineafowl better like dark meat.

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A motorist turns around just before sunset Saturday upon discovering the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road barricaded at Highway 1. The road was closed all day after a car crash brought down powerlines.

Two power outages in and around Point Reyes Station blacked out the town for approximately an hour and a half Friday evening and caused chaos on the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road Saturday.

The first blackout began around 6:30 p.m. when PG&E shut off power to the town in order to repair a broken arm on a Third Street utility pole. The arm had been broken earlier in the day.

Before shutting the power off Friday, PG&E warned Point Reyes Station merchants, and nightspots such as the Old Western Saloon and the Station House Café remained open using candles and lanterns. Neighboring towns were not affected.

The second outage which blacked out only a few homes beside Nicasio Reservoir, resulted from a car crash around 1 a.m. Saturday. “Somebody knocked out a pole right at Graffiti Bridge,” Chuck Gompertz, who lives on nearby Laurel Canyon Road, told me. Gompertz said he learned from a neighbor that after the crash, the driver “jumped out of the car and ran away.” Point Reyes Station firefighters confirmed the driver had fled the scene.

When the car, a white Ford Bronco, broke the utility pole, powerlines fell across Platform Bridge (AKA Graffiti Bridge), forcing closure of both Platform Bridge Road and the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road.

Both remained closed Saturday morning and afternoon, with the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road barricaded at Highway 1 in Point Reyes Station and at Four Corners (the intersection with Nicasio Valley Road).

Saturday morning, “it was chaos, just chaos” at the unattended barricade at Four Corners, Gompertz said. “You have no idea how many people are heading to Point Reyes, Olema… on a Saturday morning.”

As it happened, a resident along the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road between Four Corners and Platform Bridge was having a party Saturday morning and asked another Nicasio resident, Pete Casartelli, to go down to the barricade and let guests through.

What Pete found, Gompertz said, was an endless stream of tourists frustrated and confused at finding their route to the coast blocked. Pete then took over directing traffic, added Gompertz, who temporarily joined him. “Pete was there for quite a while. He was wonderful.” Eventually Pete’s father-in-law, Spike Drady of the Nicasio Volunteer Fire Department, took over traffic control in his NVFD jacket. As a retired Highway Patrol officer, Spike knew the drill.

Are there really alligators in the New York City sewer system? The question last week sparked quite a discussion in my cabin, prompting me to dig out a column on urban legends I wrote for the old Point Reyes Light two and a half years ago. Here it is again slightly updated just to remind you what’s true and what ain’t.

The British writer Max Beerbohm in 1896 tried without success to debunk one of Western Civilization’s most enduring urban legends. The common man, Beerbohm noted, “supposes that every clown beneath his paint and lip-salve is moribund and knows it.” In fact, Beerbohm added, “I am told, clowns are as cheerful a class of men as any other.”

200px-lizzie_borden.jpgOn the other hand, many calamities were – in retrospect – not really all that funny.

Consider, for example, the old ditty, “Lizzie Borden took an axe,/ And gave her mother forty whacks./ When she saw what she had done,/ She gave her father forty one.”

Such humor simply isn’t right. Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Borden received a total of only 29 whacks, not 81, back in August 1892. Discrepancies such as this led a jury in Fall River, Massachusetts, to acquit Lizzie (at left) the following year, notwithstanding overwhelming evidence of her handiwork.

Along the same lines, how about the happy little Titanic song we all used to sing around the campfire? “Oh, it was sad./ Oh, it was sad./ It was sad when the great ship went down to the bottom of the… Husbands and wives, little children lost their lives. It was sad when the great ship went down.”

300px-rms_titanic_sea_trials_april_2_1912.jpgIn fact, it wasn’t all sad. Some of those lost are still celebrated for their decorum. When the Titanic (at right) hit an iceberg in 1912, more than 1,500 passengers and crew members lost their lives. One of them happened to be the wealthiest man in the world, Col. John Jacob Astor. Urban legend has it that the multimillionaire was standing at the bar at the time of the collision and quipped, “I asked for ice, but this is ridiculous.” Don’t believe it.

What actually happened, researchers say, was that the multi-millionaire’s 21-year-old, pregnant wife Madeleine (seen with Col. Astor below) was put in Lifeboat 4, but he was not allowed to join her. The sailor loading the lifeboat said his orders were that it was reserved for women and children.

225px-jjastoriv.jpgAlthough Col. Astor pointed out that there were still vacant seats and no more women and children waiting to board, the sailor insisted orders are orders. Col. Astor, who would rather die than make a scene, walked away; the partly full lifeboat was launched; and the richest man in the world drowned. His demise was less sad than inspiring.

Another urban legend debunked. I had always heard that the children’s rhyme “ring around a rosie, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down” dates to the 14th century and refers to the Black Plague. The rosie supposedly is the round rash that marks the onset of the disease. The posies, ashes, and “we all fall down” supposedly refer to what happens next.

As it turns out, this too is not to be believed. Researchers have now determined that the rhyme does not refer to the Black Plague, which killed 25 million people in Europe around 1350. The rhyme, it is now known, actually refers to a different plague that killed 100,000 people in London around 1665.

Back when I was in high school, the urban legend of the day involved a couple necking in a car parked on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. Suddenly a news bulletin interrupts the music on the car radio. An insane killer, who has a hook in lieu of one hand, has escaped from a mental institution.

The guy in the car wants to continue necking, but the girl keeps getting more and more nervous and finally insists on leaving. In annoyance, the guy starts the car, roars away from the curb, and drives her home. When they reach her house and the guy gets out of his car to open her door, he finds a hook hanging from her door handle.

That was so creepy we teenagers were mightily relieved to ultimately learn the story is an urban legend.

Of course, not every odd tale can be debunked.

amis11.jpg Despite what skeptics say, most of us know how all the alligators in the New York City sewer system got there.

Residents vacationed in Florida, brought small gators home as pets, got tired of them, and ultimately flushed them down the toilet.

Most Americans have heard that the story is a classic urban legend, but is it? How do skeptics explain all the alligators in New York City’s sewers. I’ve lived in New York, and everyone in the city knows they’re there. In 1935 (this is true), an eight-foot alligator was captured in the sewer under East Harlem and pulled out a manhole.

Retired New York sewer official Teddy May in the 1950s (again this is true) told public utilities historian Harold Brunvand that he had actually seen one colony of alligators in the sewer system 20 years earlier and had his workers get rid of them. The only part of this story many people find hard to believe is that there are public utilities historians; nonetheless, they really do exist.

In the 1970s, a rumor circulated that an albino strain of marijuana was growing in the sewers as a result of people flushing their stems and seeds down the toilet. No one could harvest the pot, however, because of all the nearby alligators. Now, this rumor was a true urban legend. There is no albino marijuana. The plant needs light to grow.

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It seems that a fair number of coyotes are conducting their mating-season romances around Point Reyes Station this year. In the past three weeks, I’ve heard them howling almost every night right outside my cabin, typically with another coyote howling back. (This one along Limantour Road near the Sky Trailhead is the third coyote my houseguest Linda Petersen has recently seen and the second she has photographed.)

For some people, the influx of coyotes is bad news. Sheepmen, of course, hate the critters, and Linda Sturdivant of Inverness Park three weeks ago wrote this blog that people had seen two coyotes grab a chicken in her neighborhood. Tony Ragona, owner of Windsong Cottage B&B on the north edge of Point Reyes Station, last week told me that the coyotes have taken to howling so loud and long outside his home that they sometimes keep him awake. When it goes on too long, Tony said, he shines a flashlight on them so they leave.

Paradoxically, the influx of coyotes is good news for birds that roost in scrub brush. Biologist Jules Evens of Point Reyes Station told me last week that when coyotes move in, the number of mesopredators goes down. By mesopredators, Jules said, he was referring locally to raccoons, opossums, skunks, and foxes. He might have added feral cats. In any case, they are all smaller predators that eat birds or birds’ eggs.

So what’s the connection with coyotes? Coyotes eat fox cubs, and they compete with foxes and cats for field rodents. In the main, however, coyotes reduce the number of mesopredators merely by their presence, Jules said. Foxes, raccoons, opossums, skunks etc. don’t like to be around coyotes and stay away from their territory.

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Raccoons perform a pas de deux outside my dining room.

When the coyotes first started howling nightly three weeks ago, this hill’s performing raccoons stopped touring for a couple of days. By now, their traveling troupe has resumed making its rounds, but showtime is earlier in the evening — well before the coyotes start howling.

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On more than a few mornings recently, there have been numerous freshly dug holes in my pasture. They are usually only two and three inches wide through grass and a short ways into the soil. Unable to figure out what critter was causing them, I asked Jules, who immediately knew the answer: “Wild turkeys.”

That made sense. This hill has recently seen an influx of not only coyotes but also wild turkeys. Notice the holes in the grass downhill from this flock. I’ve had 25 turkeys in my pasture at a time, and neighbor Carol Horick last week spotted more than 50 outside her home.

Another neighbor, George Stamoulis, today told me that in the last day or two, he had seen the first wild turkeys on his property.

But the sighting that George really relished was of a bobcat hunting outside his window last week. The bobcat soon tired of hunting, George said, and it lay down to take a nap, spending altogether an hour or more just outside his door.

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Last week I read in The West Marin Citizen that at this time of year, female blacktail deer form “clans” while the males are “solitary.” Apparently, the word hasn’t reached this buck yet because in recent weeks, he’s been grazing with the fawns and females on my property. Or maybe he considers himself above the law of nature.

“O jest unseen, inscrutable, invisible/ As a nose on a man’s face or a weathercock on a steeple!” — Shakespeare

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The cast of Winter Moon Fireside Tales (from left): Susan Santiago, Eileen Puppo, Christina Lucas, Marta Zanovollo, Norma Schliftman, Laura Alderdice (who is also musical director), and Nina Howard. The director (not pictured) is Tina Taylor of Inverness.

Winter Moon Fireside Tales has to be the most underrated dramatic performance Point Reyes Station has staged in years. The show that opened tonight, Saturday evening, in the Dance Palace was wonderful theater, but it drew an audience half as large as its cast. Four ticketholders!

What a missed opportunity to see a highly enjoyable musical production complete with fabulous storytelling. Puppeteer Norma Schliftman, the mother of Point Reyes Station physical therapist Amy Schliftman, is alone enough to make the show worth attending. Performing with a puppet on each hand, Schliftman masterfully sings a duet with herself of Wouldn’t It Be Loverly? from My Fair Lady.

The second performance will be this Sunday, Dec. 9, at 4 p.m., and I hope some of you Sunday-morning blog readers will try to see it. Bring a Spanish-speaking friend. Marta Zanovollo, a native of Argentina, tells her tale entirely in Spanish.

Framing the drama, seven actresses repeatedly fight their way through blizzards, warm themselves by the fire, and sing bridges between the tales. One of their songs is Rosemary Clooney’s 1951 hit Here Comes Suzy Snowflake, and the cast (with Christina Lucas featured as Suzy) does a great job with it.

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Unfortunately, publicity for the show featured the song’s name rather than Winter Moon Fireside Tales, and apparently Here Comes Suzy Snowflake sounds so insipid for an evening of theater that people stayed away in droves on opening night.

Please do yourself and the Dance Palace Theatre Group a favor: see the second performance at 4 p.m. this Sunday of Winter Moon Fireside Tales and let your friends know the show is far more sophisticated that they might think from the publicity.

Epilogue: Sunday’s attendance was approximately 700 percent of Saturday’s. Sounds like word of Saturday’s fine performance was beginning to get around before curtain time.