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Stroll through Jack London, Wilson’s art studio and the Village Fair

A hike through scenic Jack London State Historic Park is set in Glen Ellen this weekend (Photo by Scott Manchester/Press Democrat file photo)

A hike through scenic Jack London State Historic Park is set in Glen Ellen this weekend (Photo by Scott Manchester/Press Democrat file photo)

Sylvia Crawford/Glen Ellen Columnist

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Chocolate on the go

Anne Abrams from Jack London State Historical Park wrote recently to share what fun the 340 running folks had at the park’s recent Chocolate Run. Runners as young as 5 years old competed in the 5K event – where all were winners.

The fresh autumn air that swept in on the heels of Saturday’s surprise storm made for a sweet run day Sunday. Runners stopped enroute to enjoy chocolate on the go, and were awarded with chocolate medals, no doubt fashioned by Betty Kelly from Wine Country Chocolates, at the finish.

Slow autumn stroll

Another event coming up this weekend, Saturday, Oct. 5, at Jack London Park features one of my favorite Bouverie docents. That would be naturalist John Lynch, who is quite the expert on just about any subject you’d care to broach. John knows oak apples, woodpeckers, trees and fungi. With Halloween in mind, John will search out witches’ broom and discover spiders’ towering turrets, while educating you about our local bats.

When he’s not waxing poetic on the flora and fauna of that mountain paradise that he loves almost as much as Jack himself did, John can spin tales about the sailor on horseback that rival the writer’s own stories. Absolutely, John is one of the most entertaining educators I’ve hiked with. He remembers all the necessary facts but pleasurably twists them into tales you’ll long remember. This is a hike appropriate for walkers of all ages. He bills it as a slow autumn stroll. Join John Lynch and fellow hikers by signing up at the Jack London State Park’s website. Don’t hesitate; do it now. Recent events have been cancelled when folks failed to sign up in advance. You won’t want to miss John’s hike.

Creekside art safe and sound

For some time now, we’ve been watching the progress on Douglas Fenn Wilson’s monumental home snuggled up next to our main Glen Ellen Market. Although quick by the side of the creek as well, this mansion isn’t threatened by any possible high water. It’s a glorious piece of art all on its own, appearing well able to withstand high water, raging winds and time itself.

We suspect that its intended function is not always and only to be Doug’s cozy home, though that’s not such a bad start. Eventually, it will become a museum to hold all of his timeless art.

A few lucky folks, guests of the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, toured the house last week, admiring Doug’s artful home and architectural art.

In this funky little village of Glen Ellen, best known for its genteel dilapidation, Wilson’s home raises the bar.

Music, jollity and color

With October’s arrival, we now enter the golden month of Glen Ellen’s annual Village Fair, featuring the shortest, yet most fantastical parade. Our favorite parade marching group is always and ever Tasha Drengson Jacobsen’s eclectic entry: creative, unusual, colorful and festive. She’s probably our only parade participant that lives up to the marching descriptions included in Pattiann Rogers’ poem, “The Greatest Grandeur.” Rogers offers “processions of men bearing burning / cedar knots or with parades of blue horses, / belled and ribboned and stepping sideways, / with tumbling white-faced mimes or companies / of black-robed choristers,” which may well seem a bit extravagant for our small village. But Tasha delivers.

Each year, her mom swears to me that Tasha is too busy to participate. I understand – she’s a hard-working floral designer whose work is coveted way beyond our sleepy little village. However, it is ever my goal to entice Tasha to participate in our parade by blazing her name in this column. So far, it’s mostly worked with the exception of one year. We’ll see.

We also enjoyed last year’s Himalayan dancers, our friends marching for the Bouverie, Squire in his old pickup truck, and all the rest of our town’s folks willing to walk the two blocks of our parade.

Color, whimsy and fun

Maybe you’ll join us this year. To join the parade, contact Village Fair President Leslie Vaughn at 935-9163 or 494-6197. Or email her at glenellenfair@att.net. We encourage music, jollity, color, whimsy and fun. Years ago, when one of our noble sons studied in Santa Barbara, we enjoyed their elegant street fair and parade. Always wild and excessive, for years I hoped to see the same in our town. Yet, only Tasha, so far, has filled that role. Why not surprise me this year with a little more pizzazz? We’d love to see the likes of Sonoma’s own Ellen Toscano wearing an appropriate “Food for Thought” hat designed by Val Diamond. We wish Bryan Tedrick would roll his amazing desert coyote down Arnold Drive, though we know such an act is not physically possible in the limited space.

So, here’s a better plan.

Hanna roundabout

Folks are calling for a Hap Arnold monument to occupy the center space in the new Arnold Drive roundabout emerging right in front of the Hanna driveway. Makes sense, given Hap’s wholesome name is honored by the road.

What first comes to mind is a bronzed image of Hap in WWII uniform, gazing into that wild blue yonder. What I’d rather see instead of that prosaic image? A sculpture created by any one of our Valley’s fine artists in his or her own splendid style. Of course, Bryan Tedrick comes to mind. There is also the talented Jim Callahan, the former Glen Ellenite Connie Butler and many other local, talented sculptors. Nominations, anyone? And whatever we decide to place there could still be known as the Hap Arnold Monument, so why not?

In any case, be it a mechanical animal created by Bryan, or a bronze beast fashioned by Jim, or a stony visage crafted by Connie, let’s make sure the artist whose work will occupy that center circle is one of ours, a hometown artist. The mistake of a Texas sculpture purchased by Montgomery Village has much of Santa Rosa griping and grumbling. Let’s assure that we in Sonoma Valley keep it in the family.

Learning curve

As for that roundabout itself: I love it. Keeps cars moving and makes life easier. Just as soon as folks figure it out, we’ll all be happy.

In New England and in England, we’ve experienced plenty of roundabouts and found them a gracious way to keep everybody going forward. Sure there was a bit of a learning curve on our first driving through the English countryside. It wasn’t so much the roundabouts, though, as it was the misplaced steering wheel and gearshift.

We figure the folks in Glen Ellen, and further afield, will soon get the knack of roundabouting and will agree it’s a good choice. And that will be especially true when the center section is graced with a lovely, homegrown piece of art.

Of course, like anyone else, we’re eager to see road margin improvements that will insure bicycles a safe passage, too.

Comforter food

Last week I promised to continue my description of the 2013 Glen Ellen Village Fair quilt and its 16 artful interpretations of the theme, “Food for Thought.” Last week I finished the first row and even mentioned my own second row contribution to the quilt.

The Glen Ellen Village Fair's "Food For Thought" quilt

The Glen Ellen Village Fair’s “Food For Thought” quilt

Today we begin on the second row, which features Cathy Leonard’s dandy chili peppers drying over a heaping bowl of rice. No doubt, it’s a hot and tasty square. Yvonne Soto-Pomeroy’s exuberantly joyful birthday cake, aglow with sparkling candles follows my “food for thought, wake-up call.” As I mentioned in a much earlier, springtime column, Yvonne’s cake is my one of my favorites. Who among us isn’t cheered by birthday cake?

Chris Gooding’s salsa-in-preparation features a cutting board replete with tomato, avocado, lemon and knife. Hungry yet?

Up pops the next row with Leslie Smith’s olive oil and crusty French bread. Do you think it’s maybe San Francisco sourdough that she misses most in Montana?

Marsha Moran’s pears and cherries look absolutely real. That’s not surprising: Marsha “draws” her quilt squares with thousands of tiny stitches that are like flecks of paint applied by a brush. Her time-consuming technique creates a reality as fine as any painting. Her blazing red cherries set off the pale golden pears so beautifully, it’s clear that Marsha’s quilting skills originate with a love of art. Does Marsha paint also? I don’t know, but it’s obvious she could.

Sonoma Valley High School forensics teacher Janet Hansen has created a whimsical homage to food from the sea. Her crab, salmon and oysters floating on a sea of bubbly flowers embody a jaunty humor that makes me crave a trip to see Mike Svedise at Santa Rosa Seafood.

Right next to the fresh fish dinner is Blythe Carver’s lovely and simple curving branches of hops, the base of brew. Beer, I mean. It’s an educational square for me. At first glance, I saw lyrical autumn leaves dancing in the wind, which is maybe just the way that a cold beer on a hot summer day can make one feel. I wonder how many among us, quilters or just quilt lovers, could identify hops without seeing the label on the back?

The last row begins with quilt coordinator Pam Wiley-Gilmore’s simple summer delight: a slice of watermelon, featuring one bite taken, with more sweet bites promised. The melon-pink fabric she chose is super, a bit of summer caught in cloth. Pam’s second contribution to the quilt is a lovely still life of three onions flanking a graceful vase, perhaps a family heirloom. Both of Pam’s squares have a simple and dignified feeling that, like a prayer, offers more than just the simple form. They somehow express a quiet benediction to life-giving food.

Alexa Wood’s graceful, fuzzy peach invites a tactile experience. But that can’t be fully realized until one wins the quilt. That is: hands off unless you are the lucky raffle winner. You may, however, delight in the graceful sense of rhythm that this peach offers.

The final square, anchoring the quilt’s right hand bottom corner, is Mary Ann Carr’s pair of pears. No doubt, she enjoyed the alliteration of the square’s name and was inspired by that. For me, her two hanging pears have a slight Rousseau quality, as if Henri might have first inspired Ma Carr.

You could be the winner

Those are the delightful squares of our magnificent Glen Ellen Village quilt of 2013. My advice: buy raffle tickets frequently and repeatedly. I am. Last week, folks from around and about everywhere purchased chances to win this quilt when it was displayed at Sonoma’s Vintage Festival. You’ll have a chance to buy more tickets when it’s on display in front of the Glen Ellen Village Market, and when it’s at the fair. I envy the winner of this one, especially. It’s the prize of all the years of quilts that have funded our fair through its two-and-a-half decades.

Diligent and cheerful work

Next week I’ll share the names of the folks who work throughout the long year to coordinate all of the events of our annual Glen Ellen Village Fair. Hard job? Yep, no doubt it is. But from across the creek I often hear them at their meetings laughing and talking on the deck of the Jack London Saloon. Sure, they do work diligently, but cheerfully, as well.

I add that just to let you know that if you are reading this and looking for a way to continue this great Glen Ellen tradition, you’d be welcome to join the team that ensures that Glen Ellen celebrates community, each year on the Sunday before the Monday of Indigenous Peoples Day, also known as Columbus Day, in honor of America’s first illegal immigrant (Sto solo scherzando!).

Knives of Damocles

Recently, I ran into John McReynolds, founder of Cafe La Haye, on a sunny summer weekend at Bill McKibben’s climate-change talk in Sonoma (more on that in a moment). John (who could easily borrow Sinatra’s affectionate moniker, “Old Blue Eyes”) filled me in on the story of that hanging knife that terrorizes (or so I imagine) the chefs at Cafe La Haye. The knife was an art installation that he commissioned from Sonoma sculptor John Curry. It hangs in the rafters above the kitchen, in plain sight, not hidden, but not readily noticed. John McReynolds tells me the Knife of Damocles, as I like to call it, represents the danger and edginess of a chef’s life, especially one acted out daily right within customers’ view. It’s John McR’s prize art, but for now stays with La Haye, though it’s Saul Gropman’s cafe now.

McKibbin’s climate-change talk reminded me of the historical “fire and brimstone” lectures of the past (climate-changers in the hands of an angry god). As the director of 350.org, May Boeve, admits, “Bill’s all gloom and doom.” No doubt, the situation warrants it.

But then, sweet May, whom I well remember as a slight and but forthright middle school student, shared, “There is much good work that can be done to reverse this disaster. But we must act now.”

Cancelled events cause consternation

We were sadly disappointed last week to have two events were anticipated with glee be cancelled. First was the rockin’ rolling promised performance by two of my favorite down-home boys. That would be Jaydub and Dino, who were set to wail and harmonize last week under the moon before the showing of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” at Jack London State Historic Park. I was buzzed about that event.

Jaydub, otherwise known as Jeff Falconer, had planned all of the “Funky Fridays” and Thirsty Thursdays events at Sugarloaf and Jack London Park this summer, offering a great line-up of local stars. When it came time for his own opportunity to perform, the concert was cancelled, as was the movie. I was truly disappointed. Fast on that, was the cancellation of visiting poet, hometown gal, now a Kentucky horselady, Ada Limon. Further disappointment.

I did hear that Ada’s performance at Readers’ Books was terrific and well attended. Thanks Andy Weinberger for making sure that Ada’s hometown fans got to hear her read.

Apparently, we folks who eagerly anticipate these great events at the local state parks, must sign up well in advance and even send in our money. If we don’t, the events are cancelled. Jeff said I was just one of many who called him saying I planned to attend. So now we’ve learned. Sign up early or it won’t happen.

Filming the dream

I finally took the opportunity to catch one of Terry Ebinger’s film offerings. She is a Glen Ellen therapist, dream worker and longtime film buff. Terry knows cinema and she knows how to take her audience deeper into the symbols and secrets of a film. Sweetie and I delighted in her introduction and discussion of “Black Narcissus,” a fantastic film that was shown in the historic Mendocino Avenue Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Terry lives in Glen Ellen but teaches film classes all over Northern California and I now know they are not to be missed. Next up she has classes ongoing at Santa Rosa Junior College, College of Marin and in Berkeley. Google her name and you’ll get a variety of links to the venues for her films.

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.