Overwhelming gratitude in Glen Ellen
We assume turkey might well be on your menu this Thursday. As you consume your fair share of that graceless, gobbling, feathered friend, give a nod of thanks that Ben Franklin’s proposal to select the turkey as our national bird was defeated. Better on our plates than on our national seal, I say.
While I’m not entirely fond of the eagle’s image as rapacious and warlike, I’d less prefer a bird of such dim wit as the turkey.
We are grateful the eagle keeps his eye on the olive branches of peace, even if his keepers don’t always follow through so swiftly. The hope is still alive.
Good old revolutionary Ben would be proud of our town. The bird he favored as our national emblem runs wild through the streets, hills, creeks and lanes of this village. Scatter shot up the lane in a noisy flutter of flying feathers and muffled gobble.
The Glen Ellen turkey explosion of recent years has waned somewhat. I’m not referring to those white-skinned, plucked bare birds available at the market that we’ll all be roasting on Thursday. They’re not known to explode—not often, anyway.
It’s the ones “on the hoof” that impress me. Turkeys have invaded Glen Ellen. They’re all over town: Gobbling through the garden, nesting in the trees and scrambling across the lawns beyond the Butler Oaks.
Survival of fittest
Could our local turkeys be fugitives from the old Nicholas property over the mountain? In any case, those are not the ones to ingest this Holiday. Leave those for beautifully blessed Mr. and Mrs. Felis-concolor, who must gobble those birds daily as part of their all carne diet.
Speaking of those who love a good run through the woods. . . You can bet that Tom Torlakson didn’t expect to have his name bold-faced in this column today. In fact, he probably won’t ever know. But I was thinking of him today when I heard on NPR news that only 31% of California students tested healthy in all six areas of the standard Physical Fitness Tests.
So what’s up with Tom? He’s our State Superintendent and a cross-country coach who last year promised to hire celebrity athletes to promote physical fitness.
In my mind, that’s not much of a solution. Sitting in an assembly, watching some star that most of the kids know only from television, if at all, isn’t going to make one wit of difference in their physical fitness scores. Absurdly, it may well encourage more television time. Oops.
Dunbar kids set pace
Things are looking up in the physical fitness realm at Dunbar, however. In my recent visits to campus to visit the mentor center, I often see full classrooms of happy students strolling the circumference of the play yard, chatting with friends. Sharing a good walk and a good conversation is a sure way to promote physical fitness.
This is exactly what I’m proposing to make your Thanksgiving Holiday a success. A post-prandial trek is the perfect solution to not merely a stuffed turkey, but a stuffed you. Here are a few of my favorite, local strolls.
Walk in the park
The Glen Ellen Regional Park has been tops on my list since we first got here in the 70s. Then, it wasn’t paved, I not even sure that it was owned by the County Parks system. But the (sometimes) muddy paths that led through that oak woodland, and up and over the hills and around the lake were frequented by the four Crawfords on a daily basis, rain or shine. In fact, I believe it was one of those Thanksgiving hikes, that convinced one of our dear relatives to drop the tobacco habit. Notice: we’re not naming names here, but he knows who he is. And we’re grateful he’s still among the walking.
With the central trail now paved and the eastern destination the Elizabeth Anne Perrone Dog Park, the entire family (including Fido, on leash, Grammy in her walker, and junior in his stroller) is welcome. Check it out. And be sure to wave as you pass the Crawford-Ayers-Stein-Goldhammer-Wilson-Luong family. (Check out Sonoma-county.org/parks to plan your walk.)
We’re lucky to live in the center of town, where no cars are necessary. A family promenade down Carmel, veering left into the park can take us quickly into paradise.
Walk in Paradise
For another shot at a walk that actually is Paradise, you’ll have to get in your car. Or maybe several cars if your family numbers rival ours. Paradise Ridge Winery, not so far away in Santa Rosa, off Fountaingrove Parkway on Thomas Lake Harris Drive is where you find an art and sculpture installation worthy of the trek into the big town to our north. Please note, we’re not promoting imbibing here, merely an art trek that the whole family can enjoy. It also presents the perfect opportunity to take your annual family photo.
We’re not talking about the Kenwood tasting room here, but the beautiful property that borders the Santa Rosa property of Cloverleaf Ranch, where, back in the day, we used to haul a carload of local boys to camp each summer.
Hats off to Al Voigt
The winery is currently featuring a year-long art exhibit in honor of Al Voigt. The huge sculptures that range over the oak-studded hills range from whimsical to poignant, with plenty of thought-provoking pieces to discuss while you amble. My favorite (and this was even before I read the tag identifying the artist) is Bryan Tedrick’s floating, swirling cowboy hat, an homage to art patron Voight. The movement of this sculpture is enticingly playful and can’t help but make you smile.
If you really enjoy Tedrick’s sculpture, on the way home from Paradise, check out his angel wings in the field next to the Kenwood Restaurant. Another picture-perfect spot to frame your favorite Sweetie.
For more information about Tedrick’s sculpture (as well as the other 33 at Paradise Ridge Winery, check out voigtfoundation.com/The_Spirit_of_the_Man
Don’t forget your cameras.
In the past, I’ve received column queries when I use obscure language like post-prandial, not to mention peripatetic, as well as schlep and slog and other such slang. However, how can I help but be euphuistic? Yep, it’s spelled correctly. Look it up in your Webster’s. It’ll help your Thanksgiving Thursday eve Scrabble Game. That game’s our preferred way to warm up after our cool down walk. Scrabble goes well with pumpkin pie, too.
My list of things to be thankful for this holiday definitely includes nature’s bounty in the form of flaming crimson Butler Oaks of Arnold Drive and the golden glow of the vineyards along Highway 12. Have we ever had a more colorful fall? When the workings of men don’t always please me, I often find solace in God’s good creation.
Even though it’s been almost a month since the beautiful celebration of Lumpy Williams’ life, the good stories of him still circulate. Most recently, I heard from our oldest son, Schuyler, that he and a group of his Sonoma Surf buddies named a secret surf break somewhere up the Sonoma Coast after Lumpy. That was many years ago when they were still high school kids. Sky said the surf spot featured a great wave with a ride that was really fun, but a little scary. Just the way those boys felt about visiting Santa as toddlers. I wish I’d had the chance to tell Lumpy that.
I think it would make him laugh. And I loved that full-belly, openhearted laugh that was Lumpy’s. But Lumpy’s gone and we can’t share that with him.
Though we can conjure up the spirit of the folks we love. Even those who are no longer with us return to life when we talk with others who knew and loved them. That’s my final suggestion for enjoying this great American holiday.
So, along with a family stroll after dinner, and a Scrabble game before dessert, I suggest spending a little time talking about the folks you love who are no longer at your table.
Finally, this Thanksgiving I urge you to remember one of the lessons that our American ancestors suggested by their actions: practice sharing, practice gratitude. The Plymouth settlers and their Wampanoag neighbors taught us that, even if their progeny weren’t so consistent on the follow through. Friends or not, they were neighbors, and then as now, the only option for neighbors is to get along. Will we ever learn?
Loving folks with food to share
Politics and religion aside, I am thankful for the folks who surround me, my family, my friends and all the good people of Glen Ellen.
I hope you, too, find yourself surrounded by loving folks with food to share. Just in case you’re hungry (for friends or food) on Thursday, call the Sonoma Community Center now at 938-4626 to participate in their annual feast. Don’t spend this holiday alone.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers to whom I offer good wishes for a continued blessedly good life in Glen Ellen.
Share your good news with friends and neighbors in Glen Ellen. Call or write me at 707 996-5995 or P.O. Box 518, GE 95442. Or email me @ Creekbottom@earthlink.net. Glen Ellen chatter rarely requires timeliness; however, if your news does, please be sure to contact me at least three weeks before the run date. If your news doesn’t appear here, check online. Excess might appear online at sonomanews.com under “Lifestyle and History.”