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The Hand Basket Will Have To Wait

2022 was filled with a lot of head shaking and eye rolling. Many people shared views of gloom and doom based on the current state of “Things.” 

Well there have been some real doozy happenings in 2022. In 2021 we were all still so shell-shocked by Covid and fighting to stay alive that we didn’t have much energy left to lament. This year we had many more chances to get together and compare notes. The general opinion seemed less than rosy. When things are “bad” I have found that the best policy is to look for moments when the light does shine.

Looking back over December I found lots of those moments. I found so many good moments that I am afraid we many have to wait for that “trip to hell in a hand basket” so long predicted.

On December 1st the Boonville Hotel lit up the night with their annual tree lighting benefit for the Food Bank. Warm soup was served as warm hearts rubbed shoulders to start off the Anderson Valley holiday season. On December 3rd the Unity Club was back in business with their Xmas Bazaar and Ray Langevin played Santa. Multiple vendors made a pretty penny while helping people to shop local. The silent auction filled coffers for the Boonville High School scholarships. The Teen Center and the Service Learning Team kept us fortified with tasty treats and that all important beverage coffee.

Important to remember that all this happens because volunteers give of their time and energy to show up and make it happen. Cynics take note: there are A LOT of volunteers out there in this big scary world. They definitely bring light to the darkness.

December 4th was the Grange Holiday Dinner. Free! Delicious! Community inspired and Community prepared. The Grangers brought us all together - table after table of chatty AV folks caught up in person after years of insufficient “zoom” conversations. Lots of laughter, lots of smiles. Dec. 11th saw the AV Lions arriving at the Broiler in Redwood Valley to celebrate their accomplishments in 2022 all of which fall into the category of supporting the community. It was a strong performance following the years of limitations imposed by Covid. It felt great to celebrate our comeback.

On the 16th the AV Brewery presented the jazz stylings of Bob Day and Erica Zissa in their tasting room with no cover charge. Bob on Guitar and Erica on Sax set a mellow mood for all the happy beer drinkers. The Brewery has been providing a series of free concerts on a very regular basis. For the price of a glass of beer you can meet your friends and be serenaded. It’s a very congenial scene and another community building activity. Thanks AV Brewery.

On December 17th a truly outstanding event took place in Yorkville. Maria D’Amato’s life was celebrated. A large percentage of the residents of Yorkville assembled at a massive bonfire that was more like a string of seven bonfires linked together through the efforts of Scott Hulbert and Doug Labat. Stacy Alberto, Maria’s wife created a completely awe inspiring party. Maria who was a commercial airline pilot was honored by a three-plane flyover with Peter Gordon leading the way. They dipped their wings over the bonfire in a salute — this was powerful. Later as we stood by the fire famous Jazz guitar stylist Pilar Duran played while Mary Daniels, well-known Jazz singer, sang “Leaving on a Jet Plane” as the crowd sang along. Anyone who still had a dry eye at that point broke down as Mary and Pilar led us into Amazing Grace. Anyone who says “community” is a thing of the past should have been there.

But wait, that’s not all. Following a brief pause to get a drink and a bite suddenly we heard a very loud “Whoosh” alarmingly loud actually. Above us gigantic fireworks (the kind they have at the park on 4th of July) exploded and rained down (with the rain which was also coming down). Several whooshes and spectacular displays later we all knew that this celebration of life was one we would always remember. Rest in Peace Maria.

Dec 18th was the final day for the Holiday Light Display at the Fort Bragg Botanical Gardens. The previous weekend was pretty much rained out so the crowd was large but affable and ready to be filled with wonder. The Botanical Garden did not disappoint. Magical hummingbirds, dolphins, rainbows, even snakes and monkeys were posted all around us. They had marked off special viewing stations and when you stood on one of these spots it was glowing beauty everywhere. I learned that many, many volunteers donate their time to wrap the bushes and tress and other frameworks with hundreds of thousands of lights. If you go next year be prepared to be amazed. Better yet volunteer and be part of the creation of this magic.

December 21st ICW (Independent Career Women) women’s club celebrated at the beautiful home of Deanna and Mark Apfel. Carefully crafted potluck dishes and festive toasts prevailed. A silly Santa gift exchange was hilarious and the most popular gift to “steal” was a dish that read, “Don’t use the holidays as an excuse, you were fat in August” — ouch. Many donned holiday headdresses with reindeer, elves, Santa and even candy cane antenna worn. A picture game involving 18 Xmas songs was topped by a picture that included all the letters of the alphabet except an “L”. What song? Why no-“L” (Noel) of course (go ahead and groan) - Silly.

Dec. 25th for Xmas dinner. The mad scramble to clean the house, cook the meal and look relaxed and gracious when the guests arrive. Oh my. It’s a lot of work BUT, worth it totally worth it. Friends and family gather and tease each other and eat themselves into a stupor while others perhaps have a tad too much to drink. This either markedly improves their personalities or releases demon better-left asleep - but it is never boring. Beth Swehla gave me an Amaryllis that bloomed the very next day in pink and white splendor.

Then on the 29th Trivia came back to the Buckhorn at Lauren’s after a long hiatus. A pretty full house had a great time heckling each other and gloating over wins and losses. Alan and Jeff Thomas joined that other witty Brit Quizmaster Steve Sparks to keep us all on our toes. The younger generation kept us on track when the audio failed - Willow Douglas to the rescue with her tiny Bluetooth speaker. Missed was Mark Scaramella music and picture round creator, the assistant quizmaster was out recovering from heart problems. His picture round was very difficult but with some help we discovered it was all about Santa’s reindeer.

With so much going on it was too hard to get to Cloverdale’s homeowners light displays before Xmas. Fortunately they leave them up until New Years and they impressed as usual. There are streets where it is a case of the dueling houses, as they seem to compete for the biggest, brightest and tallest displays. At the end of one street we saw an industrial boom patiently waiting to be on hand for the January (not so fun) “tear down.”

Must mention the passing of a wonderful Cloverdale institution the Redwood Empire Goodwill Store. Dec. 31st was it’s final day. I was there and people were shedding tears as they said good-bye to the friendly staff that has been there over 15 years. This is a tragic loss. Such a great resource for the budget minded and treasure hunters.

Last but not least the Yorkville community once again gathered organized by Dan Dodt, this time at the community center/post office. Once again bonfires were involved. We seem to be a pyrotechnic group. We toasted with champagne those we have lost. We toasted in the New Year. We acknowledged how lucky we are to be a part of this big, messy, crazy, sometimes edgy and heart warming Yorkville and Anderson Valley community. Happy New Year! 

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