Thursday, July 30, 2009

Life in the Fast Lane

The sun came out this afternoon so I took the opportunity to run some outgoing up to the mailroom and take the long way back to the office. Walking behind the field house towards the stadium, I spotted this guy in the path, all appendages tucked away, covered with the dried remains of pond plants, only the tiniest hint of a snout and claws held a clue that this was no rock. The hare was nowhere to be seen.

Less-than-average rainfall this winter left my pond walks around campus lacking treasures; the spots where last year I spotted hundreds of pollywogs are all but dry, the water starting far beyond my reach. I'm sure Speedy was bored and left for wetter pastures and, angry though he may have been, I took it upon myself to transport him to a more appropriate environment. Naturally, I wore a skirt today so I was less than demure as I climbed through the brambles and snags to find a clear bank but I found him some bog nonetheless. I startled a frog or two with my crashing about so I figure it must be friendlier territory for amphibians than the warm asphalt of the gym parking lot.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ch Ch Ch Changes

Like a lot of people, I find myself constantly fighting the battle of environment vs. economy. In an effort to support conscious production of my food as well as the local economy, I make the tough decision to buy, for example, $2/pound organic zucchini at the Farmer's Market rather than the much more economical standard squash at the grocery store. I have to admit that I am not as concerned about the eating as much as the process of organics. After all, we survived our childhoods fraught with copious amounts of lead and lawn sprays, not to mention the lack of seatbelts and bicycle helmets. It's more the process of genetically modifying crops to suit our schedules and spraying chemicals over the farm crews as if they were dispensable that disturbs me. That said, I wanted to share this week's farm box and hopefully, each week's bounty in order to encourage more of you to support local farms - pricey but I think it will save us much in the long run. This week, another kohlrabi (that's the funny purple spaceship), a bit of lettuce and a small chunk of broccoli. those went into a pasta pot into which I added some home-canned tuna and scads of garlic. The garlic was in there, too, along with some new potatoes, a few onions, summer squash (which, in hindsight, would have been better with the tuna), some basil and parsley, both of which also added to the dinner. It's still only our second box so the pickin's are slim but really very nice. The box will get fuller as the weeks go by. The letter enclosed assures us that tomatoes are on their way. My most recent adjustment has been my milk purchases. As pleased as I've been with a gallon of milk finally costing less than two bucks at Winco, neither of the brands they carry are California produced....what about our Happy Cows? They do carry Humboldt Creamery milk in half gallons but it's much more expensive. What's a girl to do when, as a Surfrider member, she supports the Rise Above Plastics but the gallon jugs of milk are SO much less expensive. Argh! have discovered Walgreen's carries Humboldt Creamery milk, often just a bit above the $2 mark so I've been making a stop there to buy my milk and decided this week to spend more (about 75¢/gallon) to switch to half-gallon cartons that I can burn. When you buy three or four gallons of milk a week, it can add up but it's a price I'm willing to pay to keep money local and avoid the use of plastic. It has totally changed the look of my frig, though.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

You Can't Always Get What You Want

So Mark and I planned to head up to Big Lagoon today, to celebrate 34 years of wedded adventure. Mark's never been out on the kayak but decided it might be a nice way to spend our anniversary. Unfortunately, our buddies at the Weather Channel had little flashing clouds all over the north coast and we just didn't think it was good to be out on the water in a thunderstorm. Since same Weather buddies showed the clouds completely bypassing the Mendocino coast, we headed south to Fort Bragg to check out Glass Beach. The area had been a bottle dump in the early part of the (last) century which left all the glass to tumble around in the waves, polishing and softening the shards. They stopped dumping there in the 60's and, at some point, the State took over to protect and prevent the remaining glass from being collected. It's really fascinating. Normally, just to find a single piece of beach glass is exciting anymore. I mean, it's great that trash is no longer dumped in the sea but I really miss finding the glass. I've even taken to running loads of broken glass through my rock tumbler to make a reasonable facsimile.
I knew it would be difficult to walk around all the beach glass and obey the State Park regulations to not collect but I thought my camera would satisfy by beachcombing urges. That was the hardest thing ever. All those sparkling pieces of wet glass, the very thing I search for earnestly when I walk the sand....and I can't HAVE them. Then, as we're walking back up the trail, there are people sitting in the sand filling buckets with glass. WTF?

So, I'm going to have to find out if there are REALLY restrictions on collecting or if all the websites just say that so the tourists will leave the glass for the locals. There are actually no signs noting State Park designation nor rules against collecting. I hate to think I was trifled with. If I was, I'm going back with a bucket.

UPDATE: I checked with the Mendocino District office of State Parks and confirmed that Glass Beach is considered part of MacKerricher State Beach and collecting the glass from the beach is prohibited. When I mentioned the lack of signage, she responded "yeah, I guess we really should post it...". Yep, they really should.