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Earth Day activities at Bouverie, Jack London and Quarryhill

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Sylvia Crawford/Glen Ellen Columnist

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Creekbottom canines

Last week I left you with the message that I would have more tales to tell of the Finns of Creekbottom, that is, the two Finnish Lapphunds that we have adopted from Pets Lifeline, Karhu the male, Sisu the female. I will leave that for the end of the column. For now, I have good news about special events in our town that I’d like to share. First are the various Earth Day celebrations.

Saturday celebrates  Earth Day

To celebrate Earth Day, which falls on Tuesday, April 22, events are available at Jack London State Historic Park, Bouverie Preserve of Audubon Canyon Ranch, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, and Quarryhill Botanical Gardens on Saturday, April 26. Obviously, it’s a day to get outside and celebrate the beauty and bounty of our glorious Valley. Each event requires an advance sign-up, so make up your mind today where you’ll spend this Saturday and make your reservations now, without hesitation.

Taking good photos at JL State Park

Up the hill at Jack London State Park from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., professional photographers Neil and Susan Silverman are leading a one day intensive photography class, “How to Take a Good Photo.” A quick glance at their website gallery shows grand examples; better than good, they’re great.

The workshop is intended for beginners to advanced amateurs, but with limited availability. Required reservations for a beautiful Saturday at Jack London State Park with two inspiring teachers can be made in advance jacklondonpark.com or call 938-5216.

Bouverie Preserve ablaze with flowers

A guided nature walk, led by trained volunteers at the Bouverie Preserve will feature wildflowers in abundance. As Jeanne Wirka, the Bouverie’s resident biologist says, “The Chaparral and Rim Trails are ablaze in flowers.”

As Jeanne further shares in her weekly “Trail Talk” for docents, “Newer arrivals include felted paintbrush, Diogenes’ lanterns, yarrow, blue-eyed grass, bowl-tubed iris and lots of false baby-stars.” Near the waterfall, hikers will be treated to “succulent plant dudleya, red larkspur, and a cascade of seep-spring monkey flowers” with their shining bright, sunny faces. Jeanne also invites hikers to search among the knob cone pine for “chaparral pea, one of the very few legumes native to chaparral. After fire, its roots spread rapidly and its crown re-sprouts rapidly, which helps minimize soil erosion. Plus,” Jeanne adds, “it’s pretty,” which could easily be said of the multitude of spring wildflowers covering the 500 acres of land at the Bouverie Preserve, from the oak woodlands ablaze with lupine and poppies, to the Douglas fir forested trails, replete with lilies and fungus.

To experience this explosion of spring wildflowers, you must register for your guided nature tour by going to rsvp@egret.org or by calling 415-868-9244. Hikes vary from one to five miles, depending upon the energy of the group. Five to six hikers take off with one docent, exploring the various environments of the preserve that David B set aside to education children and adults. The hikes are free, but donations are always welcome. Sign up today, so you don’t miss this opportunity.

Fly fishing, lion dancing, reptile wrangling at Quarryhill

Just north of the Bouverie is its glorious neighbor, Quarryhill Botanical Gardens where you will find Earth Day activities in abundance this Saturday. Founded in 1987, Quarryhill is one of the pre-eminent Asian botanical gardens globally, featuring one of the largest collections of documented, wild-collected Asian plants in the world.

This Saturday’s events will include something for every member of the family. From fly fishing demonstrations, to lion dancing, arts and crafts, an awesome annual plant sale, a scavenger hunt for children, archery for all ages and astronomy observations. You can be kept entertained all day. Good folks from our Glen Ellen Volunteer Fire Department will be on hand and, as ever, open to discussion and posing for pictures. Sonoma Reptile Rescue shares rare reptiles for viewing and some for handling (only by the brave). Popcorn and tea will be available for tasting.

Glen Weaver promises to arrive at Quarryhill with his Free Bookmobile with selections to please everyone. Latest information from event manager Crystal Helmer assures us that 4-H kids and Sonoma County Beekeepers will make an appearance for Earth Day, also. For more information go to quarryhillbg.org or call 996-3166.

If you do visit the Quarryhill website, and have a little idle time, read some of executive director Bill McNamara’s adventure tales. I love his heroic exploits in search of the “Three Conifers South of the Yangtze.” Obviously written before the giant dam was installed, they portray a remote country with friendly folks. From rats in the dining room, to snakes in the hotel rooms, the stories in search of the beautiful dawn redwood read a bit like something Indiana Jones would undertake, rather than our mild-mannered Bill McNamara.

Sun listening at Sugarloaf

Just a bit farther up Highway 12, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in Kenwood, offers solar viewing beginning at 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Robert Ferguson Observatory. Solar telescopes are set up so you can safely look at and listen to everyone’s favorite star, the sun.

Love fishing at KenWood

As if Saturday’s activities weren’t enough, Sunday brings one more exciting event, this sponsored by Stephen and Justine Ashton’s Wine Country Film Festival and KenWood Restaurant. “Love Fish” is a celebration of salmon, trout and all of our watery brethren who roam our nearby creeks. The evening event on Sunday, April 27, begins at 6 p.m. and includes fishy appetizers, a screening of the award-winning documentary “Red Gold” at 7 p.m., and talks by noted creek experts.

While the film features the environmental degradation of cold-water creeks in Bristol Bay, Alaska, it also raises important issues that relate to the restoration of salmon and trout in our own Sonoma Creek watershed.

Speakers will include Bill Foss, owner of the Kenwood Restaurant, and Arthur Dawson, local ecological and historical expert. He has a vast archive of creek information for our Valley and is a dynamic speaker. You won’t want to miss this.

Buy tickets at lovefish.brownpapertickets.com or call 935-3456. The KenWood Restaurant and Bar is located at 9900 Sonoma Highway in Kenwood.

Meanwhile two Ashtons are planning a trip to Cannes, France, to introduce two new films. Stephen will be introducing his own documentary, “A Winemaker’s Year,” about the 2010 harvest at Deerfield Ranch Winery. The heavy rains that deluged the Valley during that harvest made for a difficult, slowed harvest.

Stephen and Justine’s lovely daughter, Sarah Ashton, has a role in an indie film that will also be premiering at Cannes. Best wishes to these Glen Ellen folks as they wow the folks in France.

Living with Lappies

As for those two charming Finnish Lapphunds that I mentioned at the top of this column. What tails and tales one could tell of these rescue dogs. They are just beginning to learn socialization and sanitary toilet habits.

Their first weeks at Creekbottom were fraught with peril as they attempted and succeeded in running away repeatedly, amazing escape artists that they both are. Refusing food, hiding from everyone, urinating and defecating throughout the house. I was in a panic and ready to send the two critters back to Pets Lifeline.

They day that both escaped – the female actually spending the night outside, alone – I despaired. It was neighbors Michael and Petra Everidge who finally found both dogs, safe and well, just a bit worse for their adventures, covered with ticks, burrs and dirt.

Pets Lifeline our lifeline, too

But, all along, the folks at Pets Lifeline have been a tremendous help in aiding our adjustment to these feral dogs, and the dogs’ adjustment to us. Always reassuring, always willing to offer aid and advice and always understanding, the Pets Lifeline staff were our lifeline, too.

Our ever grateful thanks to Nancy King, who runs that fine organization as their executive director. Shoshana Brown was our first contact with the dogs. Her evident love and affection for the two Lapphunds was contagious and encouraging. We could see the dogs response to her and had faith that they would come to see us as their friends also. Monna Throop and Amy Stovall kept us informed with all the necessary information and papers to complete. In several panicked calls, Deanne Carr, calmed and helped me. Mary Green, PLL’s educator, provided us with a charming photo of the male when he wandered off. Finally, dog training instructor Annie Humphrey and her canine pal, Scout, are helping us now to train our two pets to be good household companions.

Love has reasons that reason cannot know

Of course, during the trials of the first month, we fell in love with the dogs, despite our better judgment. They are charming fellows with abundant love left unexpressed by their horrible circumstances before coming to Pets Lifeline. We – and the two dogs – still have plenty to learn, but we’re well on our way to becoming, once again, a happy dog-owning family.

Meanwhile, we see that Pets Lifeline is soliciting donations in a most gentle way. Last week we received a mailer that suggested a small donation of $35 to feed an abandoned dog or cat for one month, or a $75 donation to provide a medical exam and vaccinations on up through a suggested $275 to support one pet from abandonment to adoption. Of course, any amount would be welcome. It’s a fund-raiser I can get behind: no fancy wines, high calorie luncheons, or further hoopla … just a simple request for necessary funds. That’s easy and welcome. I’m in; how about you? For more information, call 996-4577 or go to petslifeline.org.

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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 before your desired publication date.