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Glen Ellen fish swimming in New Zealand, the gardens of GE

Welcoming talented Glen Ellen-grown artists

Homegrown local Glen Ellen cellist Christopher Votek just completed a summer tour in Europe with famous singer, songwriter and musician Julia Holter. They are scheduled for a San Francisco performance Thursday, Sept. 12, at 8 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco featuring Julia’s newest release “Loud City Song.” This is a great opportunity to leave the village and support one of our own in the city. See you there.

Poet performs

Ada Limon is back in town. No longer just a kid from Dunbar or the young lady working at the bookstore, Ada is a renowned poet. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines including The New Yorker and Harvard Review. She has received fellowships from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the New York Foundation for the Arts and won the Chicago Literary Award for poetry. Ada will be offering readings both at Jack London State Historic Park and at Readers’ Books in Sonoma in the coming week. Check out the website of both of these places and grab this opportunity to welcome Ada and to hear her award-winning poetry.

New docents at GE nature preserves

The two nature preserves that grace the eastside of our Valley within the realm of our village are also tops in the news today. Both preserves are just off Highway 12, snuggled in close to the Mayacamas. First up is Quarryhill Botanical Gardens.

August ended with the gala graduation celebration of 17 new youth education volunteers at Quarryhill. Nursery Manager and Education Coordinator Corey Barnes led the classes to train these volunteers, who will now lead fourth- and fifth-grade students on tours of the Asian gardens. The volunteers were instructed in methods to engage the children including the experience of becoming plant collectors in the wild – gathering seeds, leaves, fruits and flowers for examination, much like the real life expeditions that Quarryhill director Bill McNamara has taken for several decades.

Seasoned Quarryhill docent Ann Peden, who has been volunteering in that garden for as many years as she’s lived in our village, shared that the new docents participated in a garden tour “learning about adaptation, then had a lovely luncheon in the garden.” Glen Ellen folks graduating from the Quarryhill program included Diane Kenworthy and Brian Burns.

Globe-trotting GE trout

Glen Ellen’s Bouverie Preserve of Audubon Canyon Ranch, Quarryhill’s near neighbor, just south on Highway 12, began its docent training program as September arrived. The gathered trainees and their mentors (all seasoned docents) were treated to a memorable history of the Bouverie Preserve, including some facts that were even news to me.

Docent training co-chair Richard Wasson included the usual interesting tidbits about David Bouverie’s wife, Ava Alice Astor, and about David’s friend Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher.

He regaled us with the well-known tales about the sacred caves behind the waterfall and David’s instructions from the native peoples. But there was one little story that I didn’t know. Or if I did ever know it, I’d long since forgotten it.

Richard shared, “In the 1880s, there was a fish hatchery on the Glen Ellen creek. In 1883, a large number of trout were shipped to New Zealand, thus making – to this day – Sonoma County the origin of New Zealand’s rich and popular trout fishing enterprise.”

Now we’re not sure whether Richard meant Stuart Creek, Calabasas Creek or Sonoma Creek, but I can bet that Arthur Dawson or Jim Berkland could easily answer that question. We’ll await their response.

Onchorhynchus still out there

I was surprised to learn about the New Zealand rainbow trout (with the impossibly silly species name of oncorhynchus mykiss), but was even more surprised to hear one of the new docent trainees verify Richard’s story.

New trainee Skye Miller and her husband lived in New Zealand until their recent move to our Valley. And yep, Richard’s tale of the trout is true. Skye described those trout while holding her hands about a foot and a half apart, “Yes, they’re huge and all New Zealanders know that their origin is Sonoma County.”

The Bouverie is thrilled to welcome Skye, who worked in a bird preserve on a tiny island off the coast of New Zealand, teaching children of all ages. She was just one of 25 docent trainees, all of whom had great backgrounds, good stories to share and are eager to learn to lead the third and fourth grade students who come to the Bouverie Preserve to experience a day of nature. The preserve welcomes these new docents-to-be.

Native flora greet Asian immigrants

What a marvel to live in this tiny little village with two awesome preserves, one with gardens that celebrate the huge variety of flora of Asia, and the other a preserve that protects the indigenous flora and fauna of Sonoma Valley. Both preserves invite school children to experience nature on field trips.

While it’s too late to join either of these docent programs this year, when training comes up again, check out what they offer.

JL Park, Quarryhill honor Jack’s ancient oak

This fall Quarryhill is joining with Jack London State Historic Park to celebrate and honor “Jack’s Oak,” the beautiful and expansive California live oak that will soon be felled at the park. On Sunday, Oct. 6, local children will be invited to gather acorns produced by this tree. Then, the acorns will be taken from the state park to Quarryhill Botanical Garden where they will be planted. Next spring, the seedlings from these acorns will be presented during the annual Arbor Day celebration in Sonoma Plaza.

The Oct. 6 celebration (just one week before our annual Glen Ellen Village Fair) will include poets, dancers and a blessing from an elder from the Coast Miwok tribe. As the children and adults gather at Quarryhill, the festivities will conclude with musical performances, activities for the children, and time to eat the picnic lunch that you bring.

The event begins at 10 a.m. near the tree at Jack London’s Beauty Ranch and continues until noon, with docent led tours of Jack London Park from 11 a.m. until noon. Children from the Sonoma Mentoring Alliance and Hanna Boys Center will participate in the acorn gathering. At noon, the celebration moves to Quarryhill Botanical Gardens across Highway 12. The only cost for this event will be a $10 parking fee at the state park; parking is free at Quarryhill.

Restoring oak woodland habitat in GE

Another project planting oak trees was a three-year program, beginning in 2009 at the Bouverie Preserve. This oak woodland restoration project, known as Project Grow, involved students from Sonoma Valley High School. The program was made possible through funding by the California Department of Transportation to mitigate the loss of 117 oak trees during highway construction. Students hand-gathered and planted more than 400 acorns, 1,000 native grass plugs, established GPS mapping of the restoration areas, created and installed irrigation systems and built and installed 15 nest boxes for three restoration sites at Bouverie Preserve. As with the current oak tree project at Quarryhill, the students helped insure a better future in Sonoma Valley by planting the trees.

Mama’s redwood

I know how important the work done by these students will be to them. In her early school days, my mother participated in a similar type of program in Eureka, planting redwood trees along a strip of land bordering a street. Anytime we traveled that road, my mother proudly indicated “her tree,” which still stands long after her death. I wish the same sense of pride and accomplishment for the students of today who plant the trees of tomorrow through working with the Bouverie Preserve, Jack London State Park and Quarryhill Botanical Gardens.

Silent Spring at ‘Troublesome Creek’

Last Thursday evening, my Sweetie and I attended the premier of local playwright and Bouverie docent Todd Evans’ new play “Troublesome Creek.” As Todd shared before the play, it was five years in the making, also noting that several audience members that evening had been part of the staged reading two years ago. While admitting that he was not from Kentucky, where the play is set, he and his wife, Marge, did make a number of trips to the Appalachians in Kentucky for historical research.

“Troublesome Creek” is an important play, detailing one incident in the life of biologist Rachel Carson author of “Silent Spring,” a 1962 expose on the dangers of DDT. She is one of the early environmental activists.

As Joey Hoeber, the play’s director says, “(This is) a subject matter very dear to my heart, the degradation of our natural world.” Does that make the play sound dull? It is definitely not. The play includes laughter, a little romance and a great mystery. With an emphasis on the value of family and the necessity for environmental awareness, it’s exciting, and at the same time, informative.

Evans has honed the dialogue to a keen perfection. In his comments in the program, he says, “I provide words, phrases, scenes and a story line which I hope will strike a chord of knowing in your heart and resound with a poetic touch.” Indeed, he has succeeded.

Additionally, the cast is excellent throughout, including many well-known Sonoma actors we’ve admired over the years in a variety of productions. Especially notable are the two children, Jaber, played by Eric Webber; and Susie, played by Coral Utnehmer, giving outstanding performances. We also thoroughly enjoyed the bad-guy character, a troublesome creep played to perfection by Dan Clanton.

I highly recommend this play to all ages. Middle school and high school students in particular will discover ideas worthy of reflection and debate.

Ah, my dream: that some wise and benevolent benefactor would finance several high school classrooms to attend this play. Any takers?

What is GE without SDC?

Gina Cuclis recently wrote to let my Glen Ellen readers know about the Rally to Save SDC on Saturday, Sept. 14, noon, at the Sonoma Plaza. Sonoma Development Center has, for more than a century, been an important part of our town. The purpose of this rally is to draw attention to the needs of the clients who live at SDC.

The group will march around the Plaza, ending in the amphitheater appropriately piquant entertainment. Gina requests that you bring a sign and carpool to the Plaza.

• • •

  Want to see your own name in the news? Share your stories with friends and neighbors in Glen Ellen. Call or write me at 996-5995 or P.O. Box 518, GE 95442. Or email me at Creekbottom@earthlink.net. Glen Ellen chatter rarely requires timeliness; however, if your news does, please be sure to contact me at least two weeks in advance.