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Glen Ellen’s Easter egg hunt, art show, ducks return

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Sylvia Crawford/Glen Ellen Columnist

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From the imaginary to the exotic

Animals abound in this week’s Glen Ellen news, from the imaginary to the exotic, and everything in between. Let’s start with the most obvious.

Egg-laying rabbit at Dunbar School

Yes, the Easter Bunny and his cohorts from the Glen Ellen Volunteer Fire Department top the news today. Our annual Easter Egg Hunt is scheduled for this coming Saturday morning, 10 a.m. sharp, at Dunbar School. If I listened correctly to Edmund Joseph, incident commander for this event, Glen Ellen’s Easter Egg Hunt is a 45-year tradition here in our town. I haven’t been around quite that long, but I have to admit our two boys loved these wild, crazy and quick hunts back in the day. For them, the old fire truck was as much a draw as the colored eggs. Who in Glen Ellen doesn’t treasure snapshots of their kids on that truck?

In the 1970s and ’80s when our kids were young, we didn’t have those snazzy chocolate fire trucks redeemed for every golden egg discovered. But then, we didn’t have Betty Kelly and her daughter Caroline’s delightfully delicious Wine Country Chocolates, either. Oh my, Glen Ellen has grown up, sporting more gourmet temptations than most other towns its size.

As for Edmund, apparently he’s been at this for the past 17 years, and is still enthusiastic. However, as far as I know, he has not served in the role of Easter Bunny in quite some years. Nor will he reveal to me who the lucky firefighter is.

120 dozen, do the math or dye

Edmund is also the fellow who starts it all rolling with egg dying at the Glen Ellen Firehouse, 13445 Arnold Dr., on the Friday before the Saturday hunt. He’s had lots of practice at this task. His youngest daughter, Ruby, still helps, then there’s his daughters, Jessy and Jennifer, along with his three lovely stepdaughters, Ellie, Jesse and Brianna. Edmund’s wife, Theresa, usually pitches in, too. This fellow surely knows all the rainbow pastel colors of Easter egg dyeing.

Older children and teens are welcome to help dye eggs beginning around 1 p.m., Friday, April 18. Then, on Saturday morning, at precisely 10 a.m., the hunt begins. All children are welcome, and it’s always a wild free-for-all, yet ever in our civilized Glen Ellen style. Yes, older kids help younger kids, nobody steals eggs, and everybody is happy. Be sure to bring your own fancy Easter basket, or at least a sturdy sack, to hold your bounty.

Our community has the ever-generous folks at the Glen Ellen Village Market to thank for providing the 120-dozen eggs. Our grateful thanks to Sherry and Don Shone and Dale Downing … not just for this event, but for all the wonderful charities they support in our Valley.

Dunbar art show at egg hunt

Meanwhile, arriving early at the Easter Egg Hunt is surely a good tactic. That means you’ll also get to visit the Art Show with work from the students of Norma Yukich’s K-2 class. The art instruction and coaching for these young students was done by former Dunbar students, Alixya Soto-Pomeroy and Isabella Valdez. The two older girls did this as their senior project. The art show will be under the solar panels with donations to the Special Ed program accepted. Following the egg hunt, Dunbar School celebrates its garden, so stick around enjoying the splendor of the most beautiful campus in the Valley.

Awaiting ducklings

Other animals in the news are the cavorting couple lately seen under the O’Donnell Lane bridge. She, outfitted in a simple frock of brown with speckled white accents; he glows in a shining combination of electric greens and browns, with flashes of blue. The sun glinting off his fancy hood and coat is quite remarkable. Meanwhile another fellow is vying for the lady’s attentions but he was boldly chased away by the first suitor. We’re eager to see the results of this happy union of drake and hen.

Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, aka Floyd and Flo, have returned to Glen Ellen. They swim up and down Calabazas Creek from the Warm Springs Road bridge to the Arnold Drive bridge. I enjoy watching their springtime antics … the courting part, mind you. When it begins to look serious I leave them in peace, as any of us would wish.

With some good luck, and with the mama duck able to avoid raccoons and other predators, we’ll soon see little ducklings.

Emergency planning for animals, too

More good news for animals is a free event that Julie Atwood is planning at the beautiful Atwood Ranch in Glen Ellen. Like so many folks, Julie loves her animals, from horses to dogs, cows to cats, they are her friends.

Julie is wisely planning for the possibility of an emergency event in our Valley and she’s inviting others. As we’ve all read and seen in sad news stories, animals suffer just as people do when disaster strikes. They need to be safely relocated and everyone needs a plan to do that. On Sunday, May 4 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Julie is holding a Farm and Ranch readiness Emergency Preparedness Fair. Events will include demonstrations and lots of good, helpful information.

Among the featured participants are teams from UC Davis Veterinary Medicine School, UC Davis Western Institute for food safety and security, plus folks from Western Farm Center.

The event is free, but pre-registration is required and attendance is limited. Shuttle buses will be provided from Dunbar School, beginning at 10:45 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Get more information and register now at julieatwoodevents.com/animals. Following the link to “Event Program” will provide everything you need to know. Just be sure to register in advance for this exciting and educational day.

Remembering the Wetzel, welcoming the Finns

Back in March, Nancy King, executive director of Pets Lifeline, wrote an article about the three Finnish Lapphunds that they had at the shelter. “Kept in absolutely squalid conditions,” the dogs were part of a large number of dogs rescued in early January, Nancy shared. I’d read about the plight of these dogs earlier and was eager to see them.

My mother was Finnish and proud of her heritage. I thought it might be interesting to see the dogs that hailed from her homeland. So on a carefree Friday, I asked Sweetie if he like to join me in a trip to Sonoma. “Why?” he asked. “A surprise,” was my cautious reply. But Sweetie knows me well enough to say, “I don’t always like your surprises.” Fair enough. “I want to see a couple of dogs at Pets Lifeline.”

I wasn’t surprised to hear his enthusiastic okay. Our last family dog, Betsy Wetzel, had suddenly died one night when we were entertaining exchange students from Sonoma Valley High School. We’d all shared a great potluck, the kids admiring sweet Betsy, who was Sweetie’s best pal. She accompanied him every day to work at Autodesk, where dogs were encouraged as office companions. The company had received plenty of favorable notice for their canine-friendly atmosphere and even garnered a few awards and accolades.
Betsy saw herself as a real working dog. She even commuted to San Rafael long enough to earn her 10-year gold ID badge. The dogs all wore badges with their pictures on them, just like the people.

Her unexpected death was quite a shock. Then, when Betsy’s beloved companion cat, Harley, died, we stayed pet-less for quite a few years. We often talked about getting another dog, but never quite followed through.

That is, until we met the Finns. It was love at first sight. By the following day, we were back at Pets Lifeline, packing the dogs, their crate, leashes, food and their two furry selves into my sedan. Hardly enough room to spare, we happily headed home.

The story of our meeting them and their first month in our home is filled with trials and scares, hope and attachment. But I’ll save all that for another time.

Eyeball to eyeball with kissing camels

The final flock of animals in today’s news is truly exotic. We won’t say majestic, because we were cautioned that isn’t the proper term for this menagerie. But I thought it, nonetheless.

What an amazing collection of unusual four-footed (and two-footed) friends occupy the extensive grounds at Lyon Ranch.
No doubt you’ve heard of the team of Rob and Robin Lyon … and especially their two most famous residents, Kazzy and Hump-free, both camels trained as therapy animals. Kazzy died unexpectedly several years ago and the Lyon couple soon adopted little Hump-free, a rescue animal.

Are these desert beasts friendly? You bet they are. Even I, my timid self, was able to hold one end of a carrot in my lips and let the camel crunch it forward from his end until our lips met in a sweet camel kiss (less gloppy than you might suppose). Sweetie and my friend Luna Michelis performed the same feat of daring (and trust me, it does take courage). I must admit I didn’t attempt the carrot trick until I’d watched the Lyon’s daughter, Lynette, demonstrate it. Then Sweetie tried it with no ill effect, then Luna, then Robin Lyon invited me to step forward, carrot clutched in my clenched teeth. Soon enough I found myself eyeball to eyeball with the sweetest, gentlest camel I’ve ever met, thought I must admit, that’s been zero camels before Hump-free.

That was just the beginning of our morning adventures at Lyon Ranch. Robin and I first became friends when, as the Glen Ellen Village Fair parade announcer, I greeted Kazzy with a … “here comes a llama, or dear, or maybe it’s not, I don’t know what the heck that animal is.” Robin called me the next day and we laughed about my identification error.
Animals on the road

I’ve long admired Rob and Robin for their work with all kinds of animals. But, truly, I had no idea of the extent of the good work they perform helping hospitalized, handicapped and aging folks by taking their animals to nursing homes, hospitals and schools all over northern California. They brighten the lives of everyone they visit, from art students to the elderly, all the time guiding their gentle animals among the happy people.

The Lyon family’s loving kindness toward beings of all species is a joy to watch. They love their animals and they love sharing them with others.

After the camels, we met goats, miniature horses, full size horses, dogs, chickens, a huge variety of exotic birds and so much more, including a snarly alligator and a couple of exotic cats. The fennec foxes were the hit of the day. These Saharan canines have ears the size of bats and faces that invite a smile. Lynette is currently tube-feeding an infant fennec fox, requiring the devotion of every-two-hour sessions, day and night.

Our day at Lyon Ranch was filled with adventure and learning about how humans and animals share common needs and desires. I left feeling grateful for our adventures but more than that, with even greater admiration and respect for Rob, Robin and Lynette.
As for our young friend Luna, she is still in love with the fennec fox, Chewy. It appears the feeling is entirely mutual.

Because the Lyon Ranch is not open to the public our special visit, to interview the animals and celebrate Luna’s birthday, was a most memorable event. We’ll return someday to once again experience the animal world through the loving eyes, and caring hands, of Rob, Robin and Lynette. Meanwhile, we salute them for their dedication to all living beings.

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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.