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Valley People (September 16, 2020)

REMEMBERING MIGUEL RIDOLFI. To honor Miguel Ridolfi’s dedication to the people of Anderson Valley, and to honor his bright hummingbird spirit, please send any donations made in his honor to: Anderson Valley Ambulance Services, PO Box 398, Boonville, 95415.


Hello, Yorkvillians and Beyond!

Without a 2020 Ice Cream Social, the Farm Stand is offering food and items that you can order for pick up. This was a great opportunity to sample some specialties made by the Yorkville community, with all proceeds go to the Yorkville Fire Station.  However, ordering ended this past Monday. Last year, the Farm Stand made over $1,200 for the Fire Station. It would be fantastic to top that this year! Many thanks to all our wonderful cooks and participants!

A PHILO MAN told us Tuesday that when he went to his post office box to deposit his Netflix consignment for its return trip, he discovered a pile of looted mail taken from Gschwend Road mail boxes. Then, as he drove to the Philo P.O. to turn in the Gschwend Road mail he spotted another pile of stolen mail near Art's Apples, that second batch addressed to Holmes Ranch residents.

FROM ESTHER MOBLEY, SF Chron’s wine writer…"Consuming smoke-tainted wine is not known to be harmful to health in any way. Drinking a smoky Pinot Noir is not like standing outdoors in smoky air. More to the point, you are highly unlikely to ever taste a smoke-tainted wine, because wineries are bending over backwards right now to ensure that no compromised liquid enters a bottle. They are spending thousands of dollars on lab testing, considering cutting back on their production and investigating ways to mitigate any smoke exposure that does manifest itself in a wine. Many wineries would sooner dump out millions of dollars’ worth of product than put a damaged one on the shelf. Finally, even if the smoke damage to California’s 2020 grape harvest is widespread — and we don’t know whether it will be — the chances are quite slim that your particular favorite wine will be ruined. Consider the case of Australia. Its catastrophic 2019-2020 fire season played out during its wine grape harvest, too. The blazes burned more than 46 million acres of land; compare that to 2.3 million in California so far this year. Given the scope of those fires, one might expect a lot of Australia’s wines to be damaged. But according to Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark, only about 3% of the wine grape tonnage is estimated to have been lost to smoke. This is an ongoing story. I’ll continue to cover it. Winemakers and grape growers have reason to be scared, and they also have reason for hope. But one way or another, no matter what it takes, when you’re drinking a 2020 California Cabernet Sauvignon a couple of years from now, I’m willing to bet it will taste just fine…”

HIGHWAY 101 remained closed in both directions all of Tuesday a week ago. Re-routed southbound traffic through Boonville on Monday night was, at times, bumper-to-bumper.

CHP Spokesperson Olegario Marin announced Tuesday morning that there are no simple detours in the area, and that drivers will need to take I-5 or Highway 1 to get around the wildfire. “There’s no estimated time for reopening,” Marin said. “They’re hoping for [a reopening] this afternoon. Some burned trees have fallen onto the highway and [firefighters] will have to clear the roadway and secure other trees before traffic can re-enter.” 

SMOKE in the Anderson Valley on Tuesday of last week was so thick it obscured the east hills, like the last minutes of an orange twilight in dense fog, or the sun invisible as during an eclipse. Traffic through Boonville drove with their headlights on.

ASH WEDNESDAY the next day didn't dawn so much as it just got lighter, and then commenced a day-long orange-tinted gray, with ash falling like a light snow. Visitors all expressed degrees of unease. “Every day a new apocalypse,” one said. “Welcome to the twilight zone,” said another. A week later, with rain prayers having brought enough to dampen the pavement and retard the huge fire burning in the east of the county, the smoke has begun to dissipate.

COMMUNITY APPLE PRESS. The AV Foodshed apple press will continue to be available through the end of October at the Foodshed shed site in Boonville. Please email Cindy at to make an appointment to use it. If you have never used our press, we can pair you with someone who is experienced with it. Unfortunately, the press will not be available for use at the Farmers’ Market this year. Due to smoke, the Boonville Farmers' Market was canceled for Friday, September 11. Hopefully the air will clear before next week and we'll see you then.

BOONVILLE'S freshly installed ATM at the Live Oak Building is brought to us by Ann Fashauer and the Redwood Credit Union, Ukiah branch. First banking amenity in the Anderson Valley since the old First National Bank, whose headquarters were in Cloverdale. The First National was bought out by a chain bank which closed its Boonville branch because it wasn't turning a large enough profit, not that it was ever unprofitable. And we used to have a drug store, a justice court presided over by a locally elected judge, a bar, Friday night football, a county fair, and, and, and…

THE MENDOCINO COUNTY FIRE SAFE COUNCIL'S Defensible space low income program (DSLIP), helps low-income seniors and physically disabled persons adhere to defensible space regulations. If you are physically and financially unable to maintain the state-mandated 100-feet of defensible space around your home, our Defensible Space Low Income Program may help. For more information and to sign up: 707-684-9829 or


We called it “the swinging bridge”; and it remains in my mind, along with the tank tower and the apple dryer, one of the icons of the Valley.

This most improbable of transports in the modern age is still there.

There was an auto bridge at this point on the river, but once it was skidded out for winter, the footbridge was the only access across the Navarro. This relic has become what an insurance company would call “an attractive nuisance”. I'm sure somebody is desperately trying to get rid of it for that reason. But it's not gone yet. For years you could just walk out on the swaying bridge's rotted planking, testing your nerves. Especially testing them, when your brother started rocking the whole thing, once you had crept to the center. The entrance is locked now, but the footbridge still has some magic to it. We don't have our tree houses to retreat to anymore and we can't build forts out of hay bales in the barn, but we can still look out at that rickety old bridge hanging precariously over the muddy Navarro, and see where we had lots of scary fun.

STILL haven't seen a Biden-Harris bumpersticker either in Mendo or on 101 or in Marin County. The young people I know were Berners and are now either going third party or vowing not to vote. Haven't seen any Trump signs, either, except for one flag on AV Way in Boonville, although I know there's a large Trump vote in “liberal” Mendocino County. The lack of enthusiasm for Biden-Harris of course works to the advantage of Trump who, I see, is speculating publicly that Biden “seems like he's on drugs” and “doesn’t know if he’s alive.” 

JOKE OF THE WEEK: Judged by yard signs, Biden is third after Trump and Garage Sales.

SUNDAY, a man driving a blue pick-up with a camper shell and Texas plates pulled up alongside the Black Lives Matter contingent as they mattered black lives at the Boonville Fairgrounds. The driver, who appeared to be Native American, asked the group if they had any cash they might donate to him. They didn't. One of our black lives matterers saw a load of marijuana beneath the camper shell. Moocher Man was later spotted at the Redwood Drive-In wearing a side arm, which, loaded or unloaded, is illegal in California.

One Comment

  1. Norm Clow September 28, 2020

    Bruce, just a word of clarification on First National Bank of Cloverdale. It was not bought out by a chain bank, it actually, and to everyone’s misfortune, BECAME a chain bank, Westamerica, when Independent Bank Shares, the modest bank holding company that had formed in January 1973 among my just-out-of college, brand-new employer First National, Bank of Marin, Bank of Sonoma, and Bank of Lake County, was taken over in 1985 in a rough coup mounted by a later addition over in Solano County. IBC had an excellent reputation as a community-oriented institution, maintaining each locally managed bank, and supporting one another on various needs and activities. It was formed for a sole purpose: to avoid the exact thing that ultimately happened. The banks involved wanted to be able to withstand the overtures from large state-wide institutions; instead it became one. It didn’t take long to go from a relationship bank, where you mattered, to a transactional, sales-oriented bank where you really didn’t, and that’s never good. First National was formed in Cloverdale in 1884. That stately old building on the corner of 2nd and Cloverdale Boulevard, was emptied out a few years ago, nothing but a ghost.

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