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Camp Meeker Beat - January 2017


Camp Meeker Beat - January 2017

by Tom Austin

Happy New Year! Let’s all say goodbye to 2016. Lots to fret and worry about for 2017, but…let’s not. Let’s just leave it in the rear view mirror and make 2017 better. This might be where I wax ponderous and pompous, to pontificate with dark and serious countenance upon the evils of the day. Nah, I’m just a rude mechanical. But I do wish Mr. Shakespeare were around to write a five-act tragi-drama about presidents past and future. What fools we mortals be! You’ll have to forgive me for bumming from the bard. Shakespeare is on the TeeVee right now and it’s impossible not to be caught up. Watch or read any of the King dramas and realize that not that much has changed. We live in interesting times, and we always have. 

One thing I do find gently ironic about the recent national election (I promise I will stop yammering. Just give me one more paragraph, then on to local politics). We read much postmortem about flyover country, about simple country folk giving a rude gesture to out of touch coastal elites. Isn’t that how we have felt in West County for donkey’s years? The out-of-touch county elites over there on County Center drive? Or should I call it the Red Keep in King’s Landing? We don’t call them courtiers now, we call them lobbyists and liaisons. The players may get new uniforms, but the game remains the same. Good luck to Lynda Hopkins as she dons the Mr. Smith costume and heads to Washington. She’ll need every bit of that Jimmy Stewart charisma.

Having said that, I am cautiously optimistic that the County will continue to improve the local roads. They’ve gotten to some of the worst ones – Irwin Drive outside Sebastopol is now smooth and pothole-free. I’m hoping Bohemian Highway is somewhere on the schedule – it gets bone-rattling over there near Monte Rio, and there are some curves locally that have bumps and holes in just the wrong places for a car carrying maybe a little too much speed into the corner. 

Also on our county docket is the new fire ordinance. I have nothing new to report, but I will mention it from time to time to see if you’re paying attention. The fire danger has dropped to nothing for now, but it’s going to get hot and try again. Now would be a good time to look at your defensible space. We hope there will be a chipper program to help you with your dead tan oaks, but the devil can be in the details. Our Park and Rec Board has done good work in this regard, but I’m quite sure they can use some help with legwork and communication with County Fire. Maybe even some volunteer liaison work. 

That’s where County politics just might depart from the King’s Landing model. Because the scale is local, the odds are slightly better that a small group of citizens can make their voice heard. West County might still be a bit of an underdog with the freeway folks who make up most of the votes and the money in Sonoma County, but if the right points of leverage are found, we can punch above our weight. How? Go to the Park and Rec board meetings. Speak of issues of concern to you. Ask questions. Volunteer your time. If you don’t know who to call or what window in what building to line up at, there’s a pretty good chance that Gary Helfrich can tell you. The man is connected. He’s been inside the belly of the beast. 

Look at me. I promised I wouldn’t, then rabbited on about politics the whole time, didn’t I? Get me started, and I just don’t stop. Ah well – all the world’s a stage and all that. You are reading this in the New Year. You survived the holidays once again! Have a cup of hot cocoa and toast yourself. Put on some warm socks and sit on your porch in the cold, misty quiet of Camp Meeker in January. Let them city folks in the freeway belt make their Damp Sneaker jokes – those of us who are in on the secret know that in many ways cold, dark, damp January is the best time of all to be here. There’s an energy in the air as the forest draws us into itself – for healing. For rejuvenation. For rebirth. Yeah. You know.