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Sonoma County Gazette
Occidental Oriented by Gino Gaffney

Hello All!

Feb 28, 2018


I am happy to be home, after a wonderful three weeks of adventure in Panama. We didn’t get to swim with Whale Sharks as was hoped for, but in the process of trying did get to see sea turtles, reef sharks, rays, eels and lots of beautiful fish and coral. A great experience, and perhaps I will get to see the Whale Sharks next time. This all took place off the island of Coiba, a National Park on the Pacific coast of Panama. An amazing place to visit.

The Garden Eels were my personal highlight. Garden Eels hang out in groups, each one protruding about a foot from it’s own hole in the sandy bottom. They sway around in the current, waiting for something edible to come close. If something big, say a human swims nearby the whole group simultaneously pulls back into their holes, pretty neat to see.

There were many other adventures in my Panama travels, but I won’t subject you all to them in my supposed to be about Occidental column. I will however give a definite thumbs up to visiting Panama (my 4th time) and would be happy to give more info to anyone interested in going if they want to e-mail me.

It seems to me that things are good here in West County upon my return. It was a little shocking to see the plum trees in bloom already, guess mine won’t be getting pruned this Spring. Progress continues on the downtown project and I just heard that the area across from the Post Office is officially designated for a new sidewalk, yay!

Occidental Mural: I volunteer with the Occidental Community Council and we are in the process of updating the town directory mural on the side of the Bohemian Market. It has been a beautiful piece of town since 1990 (wow, that long—really?) but is in definite need of updating both to enhance it’s appearance and its usefulness. In a town that basically stays the same, looking at the directory is a good way to take note of all the changes in the last 28 years. Many businesses have gone away and many new ones have taken their place. It looks like the work will take place sometime in March, being done by muralist Dave Gordon who did the spectacular mural on the arts center building visible as you come into town on Graton Rd. I will be coming around to businesses in the next couple of weeks to introduce myself and gather info as to how folks would like to be listed on the directory. As well, the council will be seeking a small donation from each business to held fund the rehab of the mural.

Qigong / Tai Chi class: There is an ongoing class in Occidental worthy of a shout out to the community as a reminder to check it out. Celebrating 20 years in existence, the Qigong / Tai Chi class is located in the social hall of St. Philips Church on Main St. Taught by Emilio Gonzalez who has 40 years of experience, the class is on Thursdays from 9 – 10am and you are welcome to drop in to any class for a $5 donation.

Nurturing our happy home is this month’sGazette theme, which brings many things to mind for me, two of which I feel like discussing currently. One is litter. Unfortunately our beautiful home is not being cared for by some as well as it should be. Please don’t litter. Please speak up when you see someone else litter. Please pick up trash (and pick up some good karma) when you are out around town or on a walk on our local roads. Please don’t deposit household trash in the cans and bins around town.

The other is the branding of Sonoma County. I propose that we collectively bring back the usage of Redwood Country orRedwood Empire, rather than Wine Country when referring to where we live. There are innumerable places around the world that grow wine, California is just about the only place that grows redwood trees. They are the tallest trees in the world, help to attract the fog that cools us in summer and create oxygen that contributes to our clean, fresh air. In reality it’s much more special that we come from the Redwood Empire, than from Wine Country. If we nurture the trees in our backyards, and promote the trees all around our county I think it will serve us well in the continual nurturing of our happy home. Go hug a tree Occidentalites of the Redwood Empire.


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