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Dedicating Hap Arnold’s roundabout; poetry open mic

Dancing to midnight

See you all this Saturday evening, June 28, at the main Glen Ellen Firehouse, 13445 Arnold Drive for the annual dinner and dance. I guarantee great food, good fun, and neighborly visits. The party begins with a hearty dinner served from 7 to 9 p.m., while dancing continues until midnight. During the earlier hours, you can bid on great prizes, while imbibing local wines and beers (that fuels the bidding competition, of course). This party is the Glen Ellen social event of the season and, most importantly, raises funds to support our volunteer firefighters. Be there, or be square.

A blue breakfast

Ripe, lovely and luscious blueberries have been sweetening my morning. My grateful thanks to the reigning queen of blueberries, Judy Serres, and her able assistant, princess Taylor. Like any of nature’s pure gifts, the blueberry season is short so get yours while you can, and thank all the Serres for their bounty beyond grapes and cattle.

Talking rocks

Tomorrow is the grand dedication of the Arnold Drive Roundabout, now known as the “Gen. Hap Arnold Roundabout.” It’s a structure I’ve come to admire and enjoy greatly. I want to go on record as one happy “customer” who navigates that roundabout many times each week, often twice daily.

Like many others, I was initially unsure about the obstructed view of on coming traffic. Now, I thoroughly agree that it’s best that way. I’m not distracted by what other cars are doing, and I have discovered that traffic proceeds in an orderly fashion most of the time. Rarely do cars need to stop completely, as slowing down neatly eases the blending of cars as we mingle and depart on our rounds. It’s efficient and beautiful, ever so much better than the old stop sign, with traffic backed up a mile or more during commute hours. Now the cars keep rolling, but always at a safe speed.

Mollyanne Meyn’s landscape design with her “talking rocks” continue to inspire my imagination. When I have visiting youngsters in my car, I encourage them to make up stories of the talking rocks. When alone, I let my own fancy take flight. In an interview with Ms. Meyn last year by David Bolling, she said, “Rocks are so organic. I wasn’t sure what rocks I would use until the bed was made. I wanted rocks that somehow talk to each other. I’m hoping it is dramatic and uplifting.” In my opinion, Molly hit the mark. Those rocks do talk and indeed they are dramatic and uplifting, but often humorous, too.

Of course, as interesting as my rock reveries become, I never allow them to be too distracting. That’s part of the beauty of slowing down, in motion and in mind.

As for folks who have mentioned the possibility of pedestrian accidents at that site, I caution that it is always important to keep walkers – and cyclers, too – in mind whenever and wherever we drive. But the slow speeds necessitated by the roundabout help make it one of the safer possible crossings on Arnold Drive.

As spring progressed with summer just now upon us, the landscaping that Meyn planned adds joyful color surrounding those large talking rocks.

Honoring Hap Arnold

While I can’t really know and have no insight in this realm, I am guessing that Hap Arnold would be proud to be honored by this unique and beautiful structure, so near the place he chose to settle in peace after facing the horrors of war. We might even fantasize that those rocks could at times embody the spirit and love of place that Gen. Arnold must have held for our Valley.

Maybe you could let those rocks tell the story of Gen. Hap Arnold to your kids, revealing just a bit each trip through the roundabout. Hap’s nickname stood for Happy and was given to him as he battled depression mourning his mother’s death. He was a famous pilot, an aviation pioneer and commanding general of the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, yet he had a phobia of flying in his past. (Check out Hap Arnold online to strengthen your own stories of his illustrious life.)

Tomorrow, as the Sonoma Valley Veterans dedicate and name the “Gen. Hap Arnold Roundabout,” we thank them. Likewise, we are duly impressed with the beautiful, recent additions to the Hanna Boys Center. In the past year, I’ve attended several community events in their new auditorium. What a lovely space, graced with the enormous portraits of Hanna’s rainbow students. The beautiful faces of these young men who have grown, prospered and succeeded through their Hanna association is uplifting, as is the story of Hap Arnold overcoming problems to succeed in his chosen field.

Buff poets speak

cheek to cheek

Sonoma entrepreneur, chef and impresario Sheana Davis is among those folks that I occasionally note as honorary Glen Ellen citizens. Sheana certainly qualifies in that realm. At one time, she actually did live in Glen Ellen, as I recall. Further, she spent a lot of time at Bouverie Ranch, interning (although it wasn’t called that back then) with M.F.K. Fisher.

Recently, I concluded that Sheana’s honorary citizenship as a Glen Ellenite was absolutely warranted because of her unique style of community organizing: Sheana brings folks together. The casual, wooden, picnic-style tables of her Epicurean Cafe guarantee interesting conversation as you squeeze in next to someone who is only temporarily a stranger. Sheana’s spirit of community and fun is of a type that is very much in the style and spirit of our town.

A couple of weeks back, my friend Ann Peden and I went to the poetry open mic evening at Sheana’s cafe. What a delight. We were there to hear Jonah Raskin among several other notable local poets. I relish that evening, so reminiscent of ’60s coffee houses. Featuring great food, a sublime and laid back atmosphere, Sheana’s cafe encourages artists of all kinds. And we enjoy being in the audience.

Along with featured Jonah, another favorite local poet, Lin Marie de Vincent, shared poems by others. Then Lisa Summers read a poem of her own, followed by a friend of hers who read several more of Lisa’s poems. I walked out with a broadside of Jonah’s poem “Naked Poet,” and a song in my heart. All in all, an evening worthy of remembering. I’m looking forward to the monthly poetry readings at Sheana’s.

Meanwhile, it makes me speculate on a good use of the empty storefront on Carquinez, former home of the Gemini family store. Can’t you picture a live theatre on the first level and a coffee house on the lower level? I can, and maybe someday that will be so. What good things do you imagine in that space? Someday, something will materialize there, and your thoughts and dreams about that space could help make the changes we seek.

Getting to know Jack

Next week I’ll share news about the Jack London Book Club that meets in July at the park. It’s time to buy your book (What book? Watch for my next column) and get reading. I loved their last meeting and I’ll tell you a bit about that. Until next week, peace and love be with you this summer, as this season unfolds already golden in June. Though the grasses don’t bode well for possible precipitation nor for fire control, I love the way the wild oats color our world … a golden state, indeed.

• • •

The Folks in Glen Ellen column also appears online. Look for it at sonomanews.com/category/lifestyle-history. Or look at the bottom of the home page at sonomanews.com where all I-T columnists are listed.

Want to see your own name in the news? Share your stories with friends and neighbors in Glen Ellen. Call or write me at996-5995 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 before your desired publication date.