Monday, April 24, 2017

Earth Day March for Science

Waning Crescent Moon

My favorite international celebration day every year is April 22, Earth Day. We used to hold a "Party for the Planet" at lunchtime on the Friday closest to Earth Day at the last school where I taught before I retired. The kids made up races and games to play with recycled materials, we had music blaring, and anybody, including faculty and staff, could just show up and play. Afterwards, we would plant a tree on campus and dedicate it to that year's Senior class. I have no idea whether any of the participants remembers these things or if they learned anything from the "parties" but I know I had fun.

For Earth Day this year, I joined up with my friends Robin and Dave to scoot over to Santa Cruz for the combination March for Science and Earth Day celebration. The march, which was super-mellow and well attended, went from City Hall to Lorenzo Park next to the Lorenzo River.

My favorite sign read "Mr. President: if it wasn't for science, there would be no spray tan." Hahahaha.

This guy had a strong opinion shared by many. It could be applied to just about anyone in Washington D.C. who is trying to slash funding for environmental safety and scientific research/education. When you're in a hole, you should stop digging, duh. And figure out a sane way to climb out. Scientists and a better-educated public can help.

We walked through town in a very orderly procession. There was hardly any chanting in this march - it was mostly quiet except for:  "What do we want? Evidence based science. When do we want it? After peer review." Hahahahahaha. Nerds. Gotta love 'em.

After a while we crossed a bridge over the river and we could see the long line of folks behind us - a very good turnout in a relatively small town. There were lots of families with kids, college students and professors from U.C. Santa Cruz, and the usual boomer-age, peaceful, hairy, Earth-loving, Birkenstock-and-patchouli-oil wearing, eternal-smile-smiling Santa Cruz hippies.

The march ended in Lorenzo Park where there were tens of booths set up with cool soap and candle stuff in shapes and scents you never dreamed of and really practical futuristic items as well. There was one booth where a rather handsome forty something year old Earth princess was giving away free hugs. Nothing for sale. Just free hugs. I thought she was beautiful, probably for all the wrong reasons. Men. We are such pigs.

Dave was really into the Tesla electric cars. Robin (superstar yoga instructor) pointed out a yoga swing where one of the giant butterfly princesses on stilts was hanging upside down.  Sorry, folks, I was too enchanted by the suspended butterfly beauty to take a picture. Men. We are such pigs.

I did capture the colorful butterfly made from recycled plastic bottle caps, though. Good idea!

A group of school kids made a sort of quilt with their Earth Day slogans and sentiments. I love stuff like this and I am always stoked when teachers go to the trouble of creating projects for students to make something positive together. Kudos to all.

I also liked the grown-up environmental art work on display, like these waves created from old bicycle chains. That combines practically all my favorite things! Thanks, Santa Cruz! Great day!

Love your Mother.

Peace, Love, and the Whole Dang Earth Catalog,

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Very Good Friday

Waning Crescent Moon

I have probably passed by Brigantino Park several thousand times coming into Hollister from San Juan Bautista. The park is located just west of the 4th Street Bridge off the Highway 156 Business route leading into town, but until last Friday, I had never stopped to check it out. Guess what, folks? It’s a jewel!

I had about thirty minutes to kill in between appointments in town and I really felt like stretching my legs, so I pulled into the parking area to see what the park had to offer. From the road, it appears to be just a large, undeveloped green space. I was looking for a walking path, hopefully with some nice views. Brigantino Park did not disappoint.

Looping around multiple acres of thick, freshly mown green grass atop an elevated, level river terrace, is a wide, crushed-gravel trail about a mile in length. It offers long views of the Diablo Range to the east and a glimpse of the San Benito River between town and the park. The trail steps up to another elevated river terrace on the west side of the park, flanking the base of the oak-covered Flint Hills. On a brilliant, sunny Good Friday afternoon, I saw just three other small groups of walkers enjoying the scenery and getting in their exercise. This was exactly what the doctor ordered, a chance to walk and breathe and soak in the quiet, peaceful beauty of a perfect San Benito County Spring day.

Brigantino Park, which opened just in the last decade, is in the early stages of development by the City of Hollister. Currently, there are clean porta-cans and picnic tables spaced evenly around the perimeter, a large, fenced parking area, benches and shade trees along the path, and adequate signage to let you know where your boundaries are and what you need to be aware of. Future plans call for construction of soccer and softball fields in the park.

This is a perfect place to go for a walk or a run on your lunch hour or to take the family for a picnic and playtime. The benefits of unscheduled, uncrowded free play for children have been well documented. Bring a soccer ball or a Frisbee for instant fresh-air fun, romping in the lush, green grass. Let them organize themselves and see what happens or get in there yourself to mix it up with them. The point of having a park is to recreate. Go get some sunshine. Run out of breath. Fall down, get up, laugh, and shout for joy, get some grass stains on your britches. That’s what parks are for.

Brigantino Park, at 2037 San Juan Road in Hollister, is open from 8 a.m. to sundown every day. The fenced-in parking lot is locked at night and overnight camping is not permitted. Pets should be leashed in the park. Waste bags for pets are provided at the parking lot. Currently, the water in the park is not potable, so bring your own drinking water. And please my friends, do not litter.

Peace, Love, and Pocket Parks,

Location Map:

Monday, April 10, 2017

Activity vs Achievement

Full Moon

You can blog about it. You can tweet about it. You can post all kinds of moody memes on Facebook about it. You can sign righteous online petitions and "like" your "friend's" rants until the fattest cows come moseying home. But unless you step out your door and do something about it, something concrete and measurable, something pure and real and decisive, you haven't really accomplished anything. 

What is "it" you might ask? "It" can be just about anything that concerns you, but in this case, for me,"it" is litter. I hate litter and, even more, I passionately hate litterbugs. People who leave trash on the ground to blow all over creation and get into rivers and streams or, worst of all, into the ocean, are the scum of the Earth. I'd like to spray them with industrial strength Round-Up and watch them squirm.

Is there really a place called Hell? Clearly I don't know, but if there is, litterbugs deserve an especially hot seat down there. Searing. Blazing. Roasting. Thermonuclearly blistering hot.

I am a Caltrans Adopt-a-Highway volunteer. Once every month I tackle a monumental cleanup of my local highways, about ten miles of rolling, grass-covered hills that lead to my home in San Juan Bautista. I like the process, actually. I get some great exercise and I normally run into something unusual that either makes me laugh (an abandoned bag of adult sex toys) or brings me some kind of natural joy (blackbirds, lizards, snakes, snails). I think of my county as my own huge beautiful park and keeping it clean gives me a sense of pride. 

Today I collected twenty-one bags of icky, sticky, yucky, mucky garbage and left them on the side of the road for the Caltrans crew to pick up and haul to the landfill. The stretch of highway I worked looks much, much better. Now I am pleasantly and thoroughly exhausted, but by tomorrow morning, I will be recovered and ready to get back out to do it again.  I won't be finished until some time on Wednesday. I won't quit until it's done.

Every month, I renew my determination to win this game, even though I know I never will, because there are many more litterbugs than there are highway volunteers. It's the same everywhere, which is really too bad for the planet - particularly bad for the people who live on it, eat food that is grown here, and drink water that circulates here. I have thought about this a lot and I see no acceptable reason for people who litter to behave this way. There is no justification other than sheer stupidity, laziness, and/or evilheartedness. Litterbugs simply suck at being human beings. In my opinion, they should go to Hell, the sooner the better.

So there. I have blogged about "it." Big damn deal. That's activity. Those twenty-one bags on the side of the road? That's achievement.

Peace, Love, and the Anti-Trash,

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Easter Parade

Waxing Gibbous Moon

Maybe the best thing about living in San Juan Bautista, a town with less than 1,800 inhabitants, is the annual Easter parade. It's a special kind of no-frills, laid back fun that lasts about three minutes and requires very little commitment or concentration. Just show up and smile. Cheer and wave. Then go eat.

There was some doubt as to whether this year's parade was even going to happen. At 11:00 this morning, two hours before the parade's scheduled start, the sky turned a deep charcoal gray and cut loose with about thirty minutes of intense rainfall, accompanied by a cold, bullish wind.

I wasn't too optimistic to tell the truth. I seriously considered staying home and burying my nose in a book. But around 12:15, the Sun started to emerge, the wind died down, and by 1:00, everything was bunny ears perfect. Let the three minutes begin!

Around here, you can pretty much do whatever you want in terms of costume design. 

You can even go full on ranch-house pink-saddle-blanket Tournament of Roses equine style, sort of, kind of.

Or you can show off your Gigundo Fido. I suppose it is possible that this young lady was just walking the beast, saw the parade, and cut in line. Either way, Fido was digging it.

What Easter parade is complete without a royal blue custom dune buggie? Hey! Over here!

It's also okay to go rogue. This gal is proudly doing her own Easter bouquet-on-a-turquoise-scooter-float thing. Why not?

And, you know, there will always be guys with classic cars.

And guys with retro trucks.

And a guy with a classy Corvette.

And guys with funky old Fords.

But this bad ass girl was the best of show, hands down. 
Just her and her pygmy pony...and her Mom...and her Auntie.

It's not even Easter yet as far as I know. Not even that close, I don't think. I know it's not tomorrow and that's about as far ahead as I can imagine these days. If you asked the other seventy-odd spectators (or, more accurately, the other seventy odd spectators) when Easter is, you might not get one right answer from those blasphemous, distracted heathens either. Nonetheless, once again,  the San Juan Bautista Easter Parade was an enjoyable, uplifting, whimsically short, slapped-together community spectacle. Whenever Easter Sunday turns out to be, I'm sure someone will let us know. 

Personally, for three grinning minutes, I felt resurrected.

Peace, Love, Cheers, Waves, and Jellybeans,