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Occidental Oriented by Gino Gaffney

Occidental News and Events

Aug 2, 2018

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Summer is definitely in full swing, I saw tomatoes at the farmers market on Friday. Mine are still a few weeks away, though my fig tree has started producing and I picked my first basket of blackberries yesterday—hooray!

Seeing as how I’m a total garden lover and plant geek I’m rather ashamed to say that I had never been to Western Hills Garden & Nursery prior to last weekend. Well, let me tell ya—it may have taken me 39 years to get there but it will be a lot less time for my return. My friend and I absolutely loved it, only wishing we had set aside more time to peruse the innumerable nooks and crannies of the place. The diversity of plants is amazing, striking a lusciously beautiful balance between wild and maintained. I like the size of the garden, it can be given a quick glance in a half-hour or one could spend many hours seeing more of the detail within or simply lounging by the pond with a good book as one visitor was doing.

For those who don’t know Western Hills is located at 16250 Coleman Valley Road, about a mile outside of Occidental. There is a very nice nursery of plants for sale, and currently 5 gal plants are 40% off. They are open Saturdays from 10-4, Tuesdays & Thursdays by appointment. There is a charge of $12/person to tour the gardens and it is free to come in to the plant sale area. For more information you can go towesternhillsgarden.com.

There sure has been a lot of construction in and around our sleepy little town of late, hasn’t there? It’s nice to see the sidewalk/intersection work nearing an end, and the road to Monte Rio is a revelation of the way pavement is supposed to feel under your wheels. I can’t wait to ride my bike on it, though the one down-side I see is that it’s made for some pretty tricky elevated shoulders to the road. So, please good folks take extra care watching out for and passing by us cyclist folk out on the road as we really can’t get all the way over to the shoulder anymore. Let’s all do the best we can, thank you. Hopefully, the county will complete the Bohemian highway re-paving on the Freestone side of town asap.

Thanks to the locals who have spray painted markings around some of the particularly treacherous spots, it definitely helps when you can see them coming. I do see that Harrison Grade and Green Valley roads (from Harrison intersection to Pocket Canyon) are going to get the full rebuild/re-pave treatment in the next few months, so that will cause some more headaches in the short term but smoother sailing into the future.

I noticed there is new home construction underway at Harmony Village on the old ball field. I’m still a little sad to lose the green space in town, and going farther back not having the sounds of kids playing and balls bouncing “up-top” as we used to call it. Overall though, I’m glad to see the space getting used and will report back with more on the project next month.

Another job that is going on nearby is the Occidental Center for the Arts creating their long dreamed of lobby addition to the performance space. I think this addition will really add to the already wonderful experience of attending events at the OCA, project details to come next month as well.

As I know the OCA’s budget is limited now would be an especially great time to attend an event, make a donation, become a member, etc. as any extra funds they can raise will help to offset the cost of this large construction project. On Friday, August 3rd, French Oak Gypsy Band will be playing at the OCA at 7:30, for $15. They are awesome, I saw them last time they played here and it was a great show. Funky and fun, with different songs sung in French, English and Spanish, nuff said.

As many already know, my niece Mackenzie Nekton was the previous author of this column and I thought I’d provide a little update on her for our dear readers. She had a very successful first year (straight A’s!) at Northeastern University in Boston, and is currently home for the summer. She’s working down at WildFlour Bakery in Freestone if anyone wants to say hi and get some baked goods in the process (just don’t reach behind the sample window, they hate when you do that and it’s not sanitary) and also enjoying sleeping a lot & interning at a local law firm. It’s great to have her home.

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