Archive for June, 2014

“Thinking is more interesting than knowing but less interesting than looking.” — Goethe

While in the Seahaven neighborhood of Inverness a week ago, Lynn and I happened to park under one of the everyday world’s oddities. I was once again intrigued by the sawed-off section of a tree limb that years ago had grown around the guy wire to a utility pole.

A closeup reveals how thoroughly the cable became embedded in what remains of a long-gone branch of a long-gone tree.

Nor is there only one overhead reminder of arboreal history. Further down Drake Way on the other side of the utility pole, another limb had grown around a pole-to-pole cable. The tree may be gone, but this relic of a limb remains.

A log in a tree? Now that’s a real widow-maker, I said to myself last week when I spotted it teetering 10 feet off the ground in a crotch of a pine tree. The pine grows at the entrance to neighbors Skip and Renée Shannon’s driveway.

However, when I walked around the tree to get a better look, the optical illusion became apparent.

A Western gray squirrel soaks up the morning sun beside my birdbath. I see squirrels around Mitchell cabin fairly often, but it’s hard to photograph one. The moment they’re aware I’m around, they dart out of sight. Last week I got lucky. The squirrel didn’t see me.

There’s always evidence that squirrels are around. They leave the ground underneath my pine trees littered with well-gnawed pine cones and the green tips of limbs. Squirrels like to feed on pine trees’ cambium layer, which is immediately under the bark. The bark that’s softest and easiest to gnaw through is at the narrow ends of growing limbs, resulting in squirrels forever gnawing off the ends.

“Well, we brought reinforcements too, so you can warn your king we’re going to keep advancing a pace at a time and over two until none of his knights is left standing.” (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

California quail

A mother quail marched across the yard a week ago as a dozen chicks ran to keep up. Males and females both have crests. The males’ is black, the females’ brown. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

When a noise in the bushes caused momma to suddenly stop, the nervous chicks collided in a quailing pileup. But there was no danger, and soon all of them were off and running again. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

A purposeful doe and her small fawn hurry past the bedroom window.

“We live in an old chaos of the sun,/ Or old dependency of day and night,/ Or island solitude, unsponsored, free/ Of that wide water, inescapable./ Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail/ Whistle about us their spontaneous cries.” — Wallace Stevens, Sunday Morning

 

I suggest you mark on your summer calendar four first-rate shows featuring people I know and admire. The venues will take you from Olema (or SFO) to Nicasio to Marshall to Cazadero.

Cow Crossing — Spaletta Ranch. (Photo © Art Rogers)

Point Reyes Station photographer Art Rogers held a well-attended opening reception Saturday in the Red Barn at Point Reyes National Seashore headquarters for an exhibition titled West Marin Views.

“For more than 150 years, photographic images have told the story of the American West and an era when life was simpler,” Art wrote in announcing the show. “They highlighted the beauty and tranquility of the western frontier and captured the intimate relationship of humanity with the land and animals. But it is not just a cultural memory, it is our American identity.

“I have lived and worked in West Marin as town photographer for over 43 years. These photographs are selections from this retrospect…of places that are beautiful, tranquil, dynamic, and that connect you to humanity, the land, and animals.”

Photographer Art Rogers with Stinson Beach gallery owner Claudia Chapline.

Since 1975, Art has provided The Point Reyes Light with weekly Point Reyes Family Album portraits of families, children and babies, large groups, rural scenes, and landscapes of West Marin. He is a recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and has also received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Marin Arts Council, as well as the Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art award from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

His background includes stints as a baby photographer, a photojournalist and as a teacher at the San Francisco Art Institute and Indian Valley College. His photographs are included among the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the International Center of Photography, New York; the Center for Creative Photography Archive, Tucson; Le Musée de l’Elysee, Switzerland; and the de Young Museum, San Francisco.

He has produced a series titled Yesterday and Today, in which the same subjects have been photographed in the same place after a time span of as much as 30 years. His portraits have documented the agricultural community on the North Coast for more than 35 years.

Art’s exhibit in the park can be seen — by appointment only — through Aug. 5. People wishing to make an appointment need to contact Annalisa Price at 663-1200 (email bookstore@ptreyes.org) or Carola DeRooy at 464-5125 (email carola_derooy@nps.gov).

Ranch Dogs at Sunset, Tomales, 2006

Those who don’t want to go to the trouble of getting reservations for Art’s exhibit at park headquarters can drop by the San Francisco International Airport museum where he has a separate exhibit titled The Rustic Landscape showing until the end of August. The museum is in Terminal 3, Level 2. _____________________________________________________________________________________

Art by the Bay Weekend Gallery is featuring works by Chuck Eckart of Point Reyes Station on weekends through July 27.

Also on display will be art by Nancy Stein, Jude Vasconcellos and Denis Bold.

Lynn and I were there when the exhibition was unveiled Saturday. The opening reception, however, will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 22.

The gallery, which is located across Highway 1 from Tony’s Seafood restaurant is open from noon to 5 p.m Saturdays and Sundays.

This abstract painting is from Chuck’s Ground Cover series, which is rarely shown in West Marin.

“The Ground Cover paintings are abstractions and inventions taken from the natural environment surrounding Point Reyes and Alice’s garden,” according to a gallery announcement. (Chuck’s wife is named Alice.)

San Francisco Chronicle art critic Kenneth Baker has written that “Eckart (left) locates, or brings into being a focal plane where we can dwell on the pleasure of seeing paint regain the materiality it sacrifices to subject matter in most figuration.

“On the same plane we experience what anyone who knows painting will recognize as real expertise.”

Chuck himself adds, “Seeing paint, especially very thick, heavy paint being moved around by various tools I find very attractive to the eye.

“As the layers build up, the richer the visual experience becomes.

“It is my chief aim to attract the eye of the viewer and hold it as long as possible.  It gets the viewer to see how the picture is made.

“Very seldom does this happen when viewing realist art.”

In addition, Chuck will exhibit a hand-produced book, Midnight Ride, which consists of 30 etchings that were created as Christmas cards during the past 50 years.

This etching is titled Artist’s Reflection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Apparition, one of Nancy Stein’s pastels, is also on display at Art By The Bay Weekend Gallery. ____________________________________________________________________________________

Oil Slick Sky by photographer Jude Vasconcellos is part of the exhibit at Art By The Bay Weekend Gallery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nicasio artist Thomas Wood will hold an opening reception from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 28, and from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 29, for an exhibition titled The Cliffs of Point Reyes. A closing reception will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 5. His studio, Thomas Wood Fine Art, is located on Nicasio Square.

Cliffs at Drakes Bay

“To me,” writes Thomas, “the most striking features of the Point Reyes Peninsula are the cliffs above the shoreline of Drakes Bay, where the grassy pastoral hills terminate in sheer facades, their siltstone-sandstone geology revealed by the eternally sculpting wind and weather.

“In this series, I explore the cliffs’ shapes, textures, colors, lights and shadows, from different viewpoints, as they stand sentinel over the beach and surf.

“The work was largely completed on location. I like to paint directly from nature because, if successful, I achieve a freshness and immediacy obtained no other way.” ____________________________________________________________________________________

“Shakespeare in Cazadero? Mooo!” jokes Cazsonoma Inn owner Richard Mitchell (above), mimicking radio’s old commercial for Berkeley Farms milk. “No one believed there’d be ‘farms in Berkeley’ either.” The inn’s pond and waterfall can be seen out the window.

The stately old redwoods around Cazsonoma Inn will be hosts this summer to the Bard’s great comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“With Stanford cheerleaders and Berkeley scholars chasing each other over the streams and through the woods, into romantic bliss we go,” Richard writes.

“And no one knows the way like lovable, ‘puckish’ Kate Kennedy. Kate has been directing Shakespeare in and out of Sonoma’s vineyards for 35 years, and has assembled the Avalon Players, a talented troop of local actors to relive the ‘dream’ performed 400 years ago.

“Lush sets by Ross Heil, wacky costumes by FIDM’s Renée Brimm Mitchell, produced by Pezzo Unico Productions with Castles and Concerts, featuring ‘the magic flute’ of Matt Eakle, and sponsored by Boheme Wines, Flowers Winery, Paul Mathew Vineyards, Wild Hog Vineyards, “Estero Gold” cheese, Santa Fe Sausage Company, and River Road Olive Oil. The entire illusion portends to be a night to remember.”

The audience will move between the sculpture garden in front of the inn and the waterfall beside it for different acts.

Tickets and reservations at CazSonoma Inn are available at 707 632-5255 for June 25, 26, and 27 performances (5:30 p.m. sharp). A Saturday, June 28, matinee is already sold out. Along with the performances, the $75 tickets include hors d’oeuvres and wine before the show plus a four-course dinner afterward.

Saturday was the 65th anniversary of the start of Western Weekend. It began in 1949 with a women’s group, Companions of the Forest Circle 1018, holding a festival, fashion show, and cake walk in their hall on Mesa Road in Point Reyes Station.

The following year, members of the Lions Club, many of whom were married to Circle 1018 members, added a parade and a livestock show for 4-H and Future Farmers of America members. For more than three decades, Western Weekend’s proper name was the West Marin Junior Livestock Show.

Sunday was the parade’s 62nd anniversary. The 1982 and 1983 parades were called off after thousands upon thousands of spectators — a number of them unruly bikers — began showing up for parades. The 4-H Fair, however, continued uninterrupted.

A color guard from the Coast Guard followed by the Sheriff’s Mounted Posse led Sunday’s Western Weekend parade down Point Reyes Station’s main street.

With lights flashing and sirens wailing, a procession of county and volunteer fire department vehicles was near the head of the parade as always.

Western Weekend Queen Summer Cassel will be a senior at Tomales High this fall. She lives in Inverness.

Western Weekend Princess Alyssia Martinez will be a sophomore at Tomales High this fall. She too lives in Inverness.

Grand Marshal of the parade Angelo Sacheli, who retired after 36 years as program manager in West Marin for county Health and Human Services, rode with his wife, Cathy Hall.

The Nave Patrola, as it does every year, spoofed the Italian Army in World War I. The group won 1st place in the Adult Drill Division.

In the early 1970s, an official from the Italian Consulate in San Francisco complained to parade organizers, the West Marin Lions Club, that the patrol disparaged Italians, what with its seemingly confused marchers colliding with each other and going off in all directions. Defenders of the patrol replied that many of the members are of Italian descent.

Inverness Garden Club won 3rd place in the Adult Street Show division. Among the activities of the club, which this year is celebrating its 80th birthday, is maintaining flower beds in public places. The group also provides scholarships for college students from West Marin.

Parade announcer Robert Cardwell (right) with other parade judges sat in the sun at a table on a flatbed truck parked next to Toby’s Feed Barn.

The Point Reyes Light float won 3rd place in the Adult Float division. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

Riding on the float once it got rolling were: editor Tess Elliott (middle); reporter Samantha Kimmey (standing at right); board member Jacoba Charles; reporter Christian Peak (at desk); guitarist Ramon Cadiz; a West Marin School student named Hiroki (who lives with his aunts Laurie Monserrat and Tor Taylor in Point Reyes Station); columnist Víctor Reyes (standing); Ingrid Noyes (driving her truck); photographer/office manager David Briggs (in cab) with his and Tess’ son Elliott on his lap; business manager Diana Cameron; ad sales representative Harry Korss; former ad department staffer Lynn Axelrod; and this retired publisher.

We riders threw rolled up newspapers to onlookers, as well as wrapped candy to the kids.

A wearing of the news: Three of The Light’s distaff staff wore dresses adorned with newspapers. From left: Jacoba Charles, a member of the paper’s board of directors; Tess Elliott, editor; and Samantha Kimmey, reporter.

KWMR FM community radio in West Marin won 2nd place in the Adult Float division.

Tending the Wells Fargo stage in front of the bank were branch officers Edith Rojas and Jeff Schrotl.

Point Reyes-Olema 4-H Club members rode on a truck provided by Clover-Stornetta Dairy. The group won 2nd place in the Kids’ Float division.

Onlookers crowded both sides of the three-block-long parade route down the main street.

Halleck Creek Riding Club for handicapped young people, which meets in Nicasio, won 2nd place in the Kids’ Horse division.

The Aztec Dancers are known as much for their colorful headresses as for their dancing to the beat of a drum. The group took 1st place in the Adult Music division.

The Marin County Free Library’s float thanked West Marin residents for helping pass Measure A on Tuesday’s ballot. The measure renews for nine years the parcel tax that provides funding for the library system, and it carried with 77.7 percent of the vote. The entry won 1st place in the Adult Vehicle division.

Mainstreet Moms, a get-out-the-vote group which began here in 2004, is now countrywide. The West Marin group meets in Point Reyes Station. It examines political issues and is fighting fracking. In the foreground are Mary Morgan (left) and Kathy Callaway. The group won 1st place in the Adult Street Show division and won the overall Best Street Show. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

Papermill Creek Children’s Corner preschool in Point Reyes Station was formed in 1972. The float won 1st place in the Kids’ Drill division and won for Best Drill overall. _________________________________________________________________

In Saturday’s 4-H Fair, Camilla Taylor of Point Reyes-Olema 4-H exhibited a six-month-old Holstein calf named Kay Kay. Camilla, who lives on Bivalve Ranch, said she showed the calf to get it comfortable with the crowds and noise it will encounter in larger livestock shows this summer. ____________________________________________________________________

Olivia Blantz of Nicasio with two Pygmy goats, Nigel (left) and Annabelle. The latter belongs to Olivia’s sister Phoebe.

Olivia, who is a member of Point Reyes-Olema 4-H Club, said the two goats are cousins and were born the same day in February 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s spelled Rabbits. From left on far side of table: Point Reyes-Olema 4-H Club member Ellierose Jackson from Nicasio exhibited a nine-week-old Angora rabbit named Joey; Tri-Valley 4-H Club member Nicole Casartelli showed a Castor mini-rabbit; and San Rafael 4-H Club member Erin Rose Charlton showed a three-year-old Lionhead named Finnegan.

One of the 4-H leaders laughingly told me that a year ago a kid accidentally left out the “T” in an “American Rabbits” sign, making it appear that some “American Rabbis” were entered in that day’s competition. _____________________________________________________________________

In the judging of 4-H projects Saturday, Ruby Clarke won a gold ribbon and Best in Show for a dress. Ashley Winkelmann won a blue ribbon for a romper made for infants, as did Camilla, Olivia and Phoebe for the rompers they each sewed.

The Blantz girls also took ribbons for: photography (Phoebe) and lettuce (Olivia).

Ashley also won a gold ribbon for a knitted hat and a gold for her cake decoration. Ruby took another Best in Show for her tale, “How the Cat Got its Tail.” Her mom, Rhonda Kutter, called it “a tale of a tail.” ________________________________________________________________

Toby’s Feed Barn hosted a barn dance, as well as the queen coronation, Saturday evening. Providing the music was the band Ingrid Noyes and Friends. _____________________________________________________________________

Meanwhile at the entrance to the Feed Barn (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

As a benefit for the Aztec Dancers, women on Saturday evening sold Mexican dinners and beverages. I enjoyed a delicious pork tamale and a glass of horchata, with which I was unfamiliar. I’m still not sure what all was in it, only that it was white and tasted of cinnamon and vanilla. All in all, a first-rate discovery.

White House Pool, which is maintained by the County of Marin, is my favorite park in West Marin. The park, which is midway between Point Reyes Station and Inverness Park, includes a few picnic tables and open areas, but mostly it consists of a beautiful trail along Papermill Creek. The “pool” is basically a wide bend in the creek.

Point Reyes Station and Black Mountain as seen from White House Pool.

Here’s its story. A “fast-talking” developer named Isaac Freeman “began hawking lots in 1909” in a tract that was to become Inverness Park, to quote the late historian Jack Mason. “White House Pool, just south of the Park, was a watering place where Freeman had bathhouses, water tank, windmill, and tract office.”

The path through the park has become popular with dog walkers, most of whom responsibly bag their pooches’ poop.

The name “White House” has nothing to do with the US capital. Rather it refers to a white building that at different times played significant roles in the area’s history. It was “one of the oldest houses on Point Reyes,” Mason wrote in Earthquake Bay. “Edward I. Butler [1874-1961] lived in it as a boy before going on to a career on the bench and in politics.”

Butler would become the San Rafael city attorney; would serve two terms in the California Assembly; would go on to be elected Marin County district attorney; was appointed and then repeatedly reelected to the Marin Superior Court bench, serving 31 years. All this according to the County of Marin website.

One of the county’s greatest challenges in maintaining the park is controlling its abundant poison oak. Pacific poison oak is naturally rampant throughout West Marin, and unfortunately most humans have allergic reactions to touching its oil and to inhaling its smoke during fires. Common reactions are rashes, blisters, and intense itching.

“World War II gave the [white] house new importance as an Army communications center. Telephone Company employee Earl Hall, who rented it, took calls incoming from the Pacific Theater on his telephone, one of the few around,” Mason wrote. “His wife Avis recalls messages from the big White House coming through her little one!

“A soldier with fixed bayonet stood outside searching cars for possible Japanese infiltrators.”

The pedestrian bridge near the White House Pool parking lot at times is so overgrown with poison oak that it takes care not to brush against it.

After the war, the building evolved into a lightly used fishing cabin. “When the white house… fell into disrepair, owners William and Lloyd Gadner, reacting to a county order they either bring it up to ‘code’ or demolish it, chose the latter,” Mason wrote. “I have rueful memories of that 1969 morning — holding off Walter Kantala’s bulldozer while I hurried home for a camera.”

Among the delights of the White House Pool trail are a series of side-paths through more poison oak mixed in with other foliage. (You can avoid the bad stuff if you’re at all careful, and it’s worth the effort.) These paths lead to clearings on the creek bank where a walker can rest on a bench while enjoying views of the foot of Tomales Bay.

For those wanting to keep further away from any poison oak, there are also a few benches in open areas.

As Lynn observes, Marin County Parks and Open Space Department periodically cuts back the poison oak that protrudes through the railing of the White House Pool footbridge. A member of the department staff on Monday told us the frequency of cutting depends on what staff observe and what the public reports to the county.

On Monday, however, the staffer’s main concern was not poison oak but a vandal who over the weekend managed to drive around the barricades at the edge of the parking lot in order to “spin donuts” in dry grass. I doubt the jerk will ever be identified, but if he is, he ought to be sentenced to clearing poison oak at White House Pool.