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Valley People (December 1, 2021)

THESE endlessly beautiful late Fall days are a mixed blessing, eerily dry when it should be wet. The October deluge is already running low in the streams and rivers it had fleetingly revived. Another two weeks of endless summer and Con Creek will be down to a late summer trickle. 

HARBINGER of another year of drought and fire? The Navarro has been closed at the mouth going on four days now after being blasted open and purged of its accumulated poisons in the October deluge, which already seems like it just might be the only deluge we get this year.

BOLO MUSHROOMS ARE HERE: "Black trumpets, Matsutaki, Oyster, Manzanita Bolete, Cocorra and Butter Bolete … just to name a few. Just take pics and post. Do go eating them, get a couple books and study. Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast is a good book. Also check out new group, the Valley Mushroom Group on Facebook."

DONATIONS WELCOME: “The AVHS class of 2022 respectfully asks for donations to help fund their  senior trip. This will be an opportunity for them to make long-lasting memories together before they move on to the next chapter in their life's, as well as celebrate all of their hard work & accomplishments as students.  Unfortunately,  the pandemic has thoroughly prevented their class from conducting fundraiser (they have not been able to raise the money for the past year & half). If you would like to help them make up for lost time, we would  greatly appreciate any donations you are able to provide. We understand if you are not able to provide a donations of that much, or at all. We are very grateful for your contribution whatever its size.” Box 130, Boonville 95415

A READER WONDERS, “I thought we voted against poisoning the watershed? And leaving dried up, dead tree fire hazards? I saw this sign today, Nov 28, posted in Maple Basin." (Signal Ridge area, Philo.)

ALTHEA PATTON WRITES: “It is outrageous that the Mendocino Redwood Company is still allowed to practice hack and squirt forestry. The location at the bottom of Signal Ridge Road where they recently poisoned Oaks and Madrones, is at the base of the only road in and out of the neighborhood. The fire hazard they are deliberately creating by killing these trees, endangers all of us who live on this road and depend on it for emergency escape. Additionally, Maple Basin is the headwaters for Greenwood Creek, which supports populations of Steelhead, River Lamprey and historically supported Coho Salmon. The Board of Supervisors need to enforce Measure V and the citizens of Mendocino County need to mount a PR campaign to shame the Fisher family into better, fire safe forestry practices that do not include the use of herbicides. The idea that Madrones and Tanoak are “trash trees” is a concept that needs to be reexamined. Allowing MRC to deliberately create fire hazards in our communities – at a time of unprecedented wildfire danger is insane. From the timber harvest plans in the Signal Ridge Road area that I have reviewed, none of the other timber land owners in the neighborhood are using this outdated practice. What is particularly galling is that MRC markets itself as a “sustainable” forestry operation.”

ELAINE KALANTARIAN AGREES: “Yes, Althea, it is outrageous, and more so every year since Measure V was overwhelmingly passed. It has been almost 10 years of concerted effort by residents to stop this insane corporate practice of poisoning millions of trees in Mendocino County forests. Measure V was finally passed in 2016 to address the fire hazard created by leaving dead standing trees in the forest every year. Measure V does not ban the use of pesticides, or even the practice of “hack and squirt,” it only declares the act of leaving large dead and dying trees standing in the forests a public nuisance, to be abated by cutting those trees down. But is not recognized nor enforced. The rule of law is completely ignored. Mendocino Redwood Company continues the practice, even now in this time of conflagration and drought. Yes, it is an outrage, even more so with the Forest Stewardship Council continuing to give MRC a big thumb’s up, as they thumb their noses at the will of the people.”

THAT’S US, CHUCK. Charles Dunbar Writes:

The Anderson Valley Good Samaritan For Thanksgiving Day I thought I’d write in gratitude about a recent encounter my wife had with a wonderfully helpful Anderson Valley workman.

This event occurred a few weeks ago, as my wife was traveling by herself to the city for a short vacation, including seeing several exhibits at the De Young Museum. She’d been working very hard for months and was excited about this little getaway. She’d driven through Boonville on 128, then several miles beyond, a deer leaped into the roadway, and she hit it with the left fender. As she’d been going 50 mph or so, the deer was killed, while part of the car was scraping against the left tire, making the car difficult and unsafe to drive. She called me at home, shaken-up, very upset, in tears. It seemed clear at that point that her car needed to be towed, and her trip was ruined. I began the process of finding a tow truck to help her.

Then, 20 minutes later my wife called again. This time she had surprising news. After many cars had passed her by, a truck from a local vineyard company had gone by, then stopped, turned around, and come back to help her. This very kind gentleman assessed the damage, then got down on the ground to work on it. Within 15 minutes, he was able to remove the rubberized fender liner, which was rubbing on the tire, and secured the damaged bumper with a zip tie. He told her that she was safe to continue on her trip. She was of course very grateful for his help, thanked him profusely and offered to pay for his help, which he declined. So on she continued with her trip, which was otherwise an enjoyable one. So we thank this Good Samaritan from Anderson Valley, as we thank all the good folks in our little county and beyond who help others in need. And yes, we sent a note of thanks to this kind man, as well as some home-baked cookies, and a note of appreciation for a fine employee to his company.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the AVA family and friends!

THE AVHS PANTHER BASKETBALL TEAMS, boys and girls, both lost their first games of the season to Tomales last weekend in the Tomales gym. 


Petit Teton Monthly Farm Report - October 2021

Since our big rains at the end of October we’ve been somewhat relieved of water worries. Our ponds have filled, or nearly so, our creeks are running again, and best of all the entire farm is greening, lifting our spirits by looking beautiful and fecund (such a contrast to the past summer), and as a bonus, since the grasses are growing fast, we don’t have to supplement feed the yaks. The twelve inches received so far do not mean the drought is over or that our aquifers are filled or our streams will continue to run.

Right now we have spring weather and many of the plants that struggled all summer or died back from the one day of frost we had, are reviving, setting new leaves and even flowering. It’s disconcerting for them as well as us. Many trees are still in full leaf and some haven’t even changed color. The earth is out of joint.

The next summer season will be here eventually, hotter than ever, and we’re addressing our fears in several ways. We had a new 1.3 million gallon pond dug this past summer which is now a third full and its flanks have greened with the oat seeds we cast; right now we’re installing three new 5,000 gallon water tanks bought several months ago for back up; we’ll be cleaning under and limbing up trees in our woodlands; and we’ve dug up two garden rows in preparation for building raised beds for easier shade covering and controlled watering of whatever is planted. Last year it was clear that the plants protected from the sun did much better than the exposed plants. Nothing growing, except maybe okra, loves over 95 degree dry days and everything needs more water in the heat. Our goal is to transform several more of our ground beds into raised ones before spring.

Addressing fears and looking to the future keeps us focused and having fun but doesn’t change the fact that that future looks scary. Food and water security is never guaranteed and, in our opinions, technology just fools us into complacency. We struggle and fail to make sense of humanity’s inability to look up from its petty squabbles to see the future. Our small community lives in hope, but we are realists.

Best wishes for a good Thanksgiving and a healthy winter.

Nikki and Steve


THIS: The County road crew deserves a chorus of attaboys for the repairs they've accomplished on Orr Springs Road, the scenic route to the Mendocino Coast from inland Ukiah or Mendo to Ukiah. Made the trip the other day for the first time in years and not a rut or one-lane wash-out. Paused to stretch my arthritic wheels at Montgomery Woods. Wheels. Jocks of my vintage called their legs “wheels,” as in “That guy's got some wheels,” i.e., he can run. My wheels are down to their rims, and my run is more like serial lunges, but I never fail to stop and enjoy this carefully preserved thousand acres or so when I'm driving Orr Springs, best known, I suppose, among libertines for the spa closer to Ukiah where libertines share big bathtubs with strangers for a hefty price of admission. 

MONTGOMERY WOODS isn't remote exactly, but it is far enough from the Big Macs to remain lightly visited. It's a beautiful stash of forest, one of those semi-secret Mendo special places that gives its visitors more than a hint of primeval, especially in the human-free months of what used to be the rainy season when its nicely maintained trail can be yours alone. Especially recommended for families as instructive for children, as is the Angelo Coast Range Reserve, another semi-secret Mendo jewel near Branscomb through whose truly pristine woods runs a branch of the Eel so unpolluted it's used by the weather service to gage air quality. The Angelo Reserve is also an awe-inspiring venue for the young ones while they're still young enough to be awed by anything beyond their telephones and bad music.

MONTGOMERY WOODS, incidentally, is worth a footnote in local history as the place Robert Mathews and his commando crew of six premature fascists holed up for the night after robbing a Brinks truck of $3.6 million on Highway 20 near Redwood Valley. This Brinks job occurred in July of 1984, and was the work of neo-nazis led by Robert Mathews, a spectacularly lapsed Mormon who'd begun his career in rightwing extremism at age 11 when he joined the John Birch Society. The money was split among this bold crew and, with the exception of uber-fanatic Mathews, the gang went on careless spending sprees that alerted law enforcement that a bunch of neighborhood yobbos who'd had no money suddenly had lots and lots. Mathews, who'd dropped a gun during the robbery that was traced back to him, soon shot it out with the FBI on Whidby Island, Washington, dying in the burning house he'd barricaded himself in, bullet-ridden and on fire. 

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