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Monte Rio Musings - December 2015


Monte Rio Musings - December 2015 - David Hardy


Rip Van Winkle here. Or so it seems. I’ve been gone for almost four months, and while you all were frolicking on the river, I was sequestered in a West Menlo Park apartment, a few minutes’ drive from the Stanford Cancer Center where I received a stem cell transplant to treat my leukemia. All’s well now, and the doctors have released me back home to Monte Rio. It’s amazing how little changed here. A few new fences up, and another one down. Not like Santa Rosa, or Guerneville, or San Francisco where whole buildings have gone up, others down, and freeway interchanges finished. 

When we left mid-June, Monte Rio was all lush and green. Now, the leaves have fallen from the cottonwoods in our back yard, revealing the green river and morning reflections of the glowing yellow trees on the opposite bank. The native grapes have already turned their yellow and orange, and most are now dark red or brown. Menlo Park’s urban forest, filled with multi-million-dollar tract homes, is a pleasant setting, but it’s not a real forest. Not like here. But nothing is quite like Monte Rio. 

While gone, my big hope was to get back before El Nino arrived. And we did. We found the river high on the bank because the mouth was sanded up in Jenner. When the Water Agency cut it loose, we could see the river receding on the opposite bank, exposing the rocky beach, draining slowly like a big bathtub. Soon after, there were signs of fish moving upstream. And as we sat talking to friends one afternoon, a bald eagle swooped down and nabbed a fish from the river. An osprey trailed it, harassing the eagle, as if to say, get out of here, this is my territory. The eagle circled back and then headed downstream somewhere, ignoring the smaller raptor. 

Before we left for Stanford, Chuck Ramsey, like many of my friends, asked if there was anything he could do to help me. I thought a minute and replied, could you write the Monte Rio Musings column? I’m not sure that was the answer he expected, but he’s done a fine job in my stead. Chuck is a busy, involved guy (and a new park board member). I’m not sure when he actually gets to work at his business. Nevertheless, thank you, Chuck, for filling in and keeping the readers dialed in.

Like Rip Van Winkle, my beard has grown, but not to Santa Claus lengths. I’m told that Santa likes to keep his beard clean, and one way everyone can help with that is by keeping their fireplaces and flues clean. Soot and creosote build-up can make for a dirty visit. Now is not a bad time to hire the chimney sweep. Creosote build-up can also make for an exciting time if the creosote catches fire. Believe me, I’ve had that chimney fire excitement, and you’d rather hear about it from me than have Chief Baxman and crew show up with hoses drawn to explain it. Clean burning fires, or switching to gas fireplaces, will improve all our air quality –and safety-- this winter. 

Speaking of fires, Kathleen and I were driving over the bridge (returning from Stanford) when we noticed the smoke coming from St. Catherine’s Church. At first, it looked just like chimney smoke from one of the neighbor’s houses. But as it turned out, it was the church itself on fire. In a situation like that, it doesn’t hurt to call the 911 unless you can see clearly that the smoke is coming from a chimney. Kudos to the fire crews for their speedy response and keeping the church intact.

Chief Baxman told me that it looked like someone broke in, somehow setting fire in the storeroom next to the bathroom off the lobby. The inside stairs were ruined. A note outside the church entrance directed parishioners to St. Elizabeth Church in Guerneville, adding that they don’t know when services will resume in Monte Rio.

Moving from fires to fireworks, the Monte Rio Chamber of Commerce’s Casino Night fundraiser netted more money than last year, according to President Mary Baker. That means there will be sufficient funds for yet another show in July! Special thanks to Mary, Mike Enochs, and all the other volunteers who put on this event and keep the fireworks coming year after year. 

Upcoming Events, etc.

The Holiday Wonderland Craft Faire will be Saturday and Sunday, December 5th and 6th at the Community Center. That’s always an interesting display of local artisanship and place where you can get a lot of holiday shopping done at once.

According to the MR Recreation and Park District calendar, the fire district board is scheduled to meet at the Community Center on Dec. 8, while the Park District board is taking the month off.

Monte Rio School District finishes up classes on December 18th and they resume January 4th.

Have a safe and warm holiday season!