Mandatory 25 percent water reduction to affect NMWD customers

By now, West Marin residents residing in communities served by North Marin Water District (NMWD) have received the spring 2014 Water Line newsletter alerting them of dry year conditions on Lagunitas Creek. These conditions are no surprise as we all are well aware of the ongoing California drought. Water flow in Lagunitas Creek comes from natural runoff and is supplemented with water released from Kent Lake by Marin Municipal Water District to protect fish, pursuant to a 1995 order by the State Water Resources Control Board.

This year, due to the drought, the State order stipulates that Marin Municipal maintain lower flows in the creek to preserve Kent Lake storage for domestic and in stream use later in the year. From June 15 through November 1 the flows will be reduced by 25 percent compared to normal year summer creek flows. NMWD water supply for the West Marin communities of Point Reyes Station, Olema, Bear Valley, Inverness Park and Paradise Ranch Estates comes from wells adjacent to Lagunitas Creek near the U.S. Coast Guard Housing Facility in Point Reyes.

The West Marin water supply is regulated by the State as surface water diverted from Lagunitas Creek, but is considered ground water per water treatment regulations. There is no physical interconnection between the West Marin water system and NMWD’s much larger Novato water system. That same 1995 State Water Board order requiring Marin Municipal stream releases for fish told NMWD that our West Marin water rights were junior in priority and could not be used in summer months of dry years.

In year 2000, NMWD purchased a senior water right, which had been used for irrigation on the old Waldo Giacomini Ranch. As NMWD perfected that senior water right for municipal use in West Marin, several environmental groups protested the change from irrigation use to municipal, arguing that municipal use would grow over time. NMWD settled the protest and one of the settlement obligations was to enact a 25 percent reduction in water use during summer months of dry years, coincident with the 25 percent reduction in Lagunitas Creek stream flow.

This is the first time dry year conditions have been experienced pursuant to the 1995 State Water Board order. The NMWD Board of Directors has declared a water shortage emergency and is requiring mandatory conservation measures to achieve a 25 percent reduction in water use community wide. You can help by not wasting water, reducing outdoor watering and participating in NMWD water conservation programs.

Customers can visit our website and select the Your Account tab, then click on Account Balance & Consumption to find your individual reduction target. Visit and access the Water Savings Calculator link under the Tips button to explore water saving measures and reach your target.

Customers are invited to a Public Hearing at the Dance Palace in Point Reyes Station on June 24 at 7:30pm where the NMWD Board of Directors will consider a rate increase including a drought surcharge to be in effect during the mandatory water conservation period. In the past, West Marin residents have worked together for the betterment of the community to meet various challenges.

I’m hopeful that community spirit will be exhibited this summer. Working together we can do our part to insure water is available for all, including fish, during this dry year on Lagunitas Creek.

Dennis J. Rodoni, is president of the North Marin Water District

Ninth Circuit’s Drakes Bay Decision Would Hamper Historic Preservation, Argues Amicus Brief

As has been reported recently in these pages, four strong amicus briefs have been filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s petition to have its case heard. One of these briefs, filed by The Monte Wolfe Foundation, argues that the Ninth Circuit’s ruling hampers the protection of historic and cultural resources. Attorney James Talcott Linford, writing for The Monte Wolfe Foundation, argues in the brief: “The ruling of the Ninth Circuit, that no NEPA review is needed where agency action seeks to restore a pristine state of nature, appears unique to the Ninth Circuit. It means that historic resources on Ninth Circuit federal wildlands are endangered because they cannot depend on NEPA for protection. Absent other protection, they may be – indeed, given [the Ninth Circuit decision] Drakes Bay Oyster’s reading of the intent of NEPA, should be – summarily removed.”

If no NEPA or any other process would be needed to remove an ineligible historic resource from wildlands, argues Linford, the historic resource would face an imminent threat. “Thus, the typical federal agency would find it impossible to promulgate the same procedures for ineligible historic resources on wildlands within the Ninth Circuit as for those within other Circuits,” argues the brief. “There is an intolerable split.”

Resolving splits among the Circuit courts is one of the main jobs of the U.S. Supreme Court. The brief also argues that the decision by the Secretary of the Interior to close the oyster farm was shaped by his misunderstanding of the Wilderness Act of 1964, which he must have mistakenly believed to be consistent only with pristine wildness. The brief argues: “The Drakes Bay Oyster majority’s support for the Secretary’s position on pristine wildness may well have shaped its holding that NEPA review was not needed “[b]ecause removing the oyster farm is a step toward restoring the natural, untouched physical environment.” … But NEPA does not call for the restoration of some ideal of pristine wildness.

Rather, NEPA recognizes the critical importance of restoring and maintaining environmental quality to the overall welfare and development of man, and to that end seeks to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans. More specifically, NEPA calls for governmental action that will attain the widest range of beneficial uses of the environment without degradation …; preserve important historic, cultural and natural aspects of our national heritage, … [and] enhance the quality of renewable resources. (Emphasis supplied.)

Historic preservation is an explicit statutory goal of NEPA. “Restoration” of pristine wildness, as such, is not. Drakes Bay Oyster’s misapplication of NEPA is not merely erroneous; it is an error that creates an intolerable split between Circuits and poses an imminent threat to historic resources in federally administered wildlands.”

Read the amicus brief here:

Read Drakes Bay’s cert petition here:

Drakes Bay Oyster Files Reply Brief in U.S. Supreme Court

This week, Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC) filed its reply to the government’s brief opposing the oyster farm’s petition to have the U.S. Supreme Court hear the case. The Supreme Court could decide whether to take this case as early as the end of this month. At stake is whether the government, in making countless everyday decisions, can be taken to court when it abuses its power.

The Ninth Circuit held last fall that a federal court does not have jurisdiction to review a discretionary agency decision for abuse of discretion. Drakes Bay petitioned the high court on April 14, 2014 for a writ of certiorari to review the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in its case against the government. The government filed a brief on May 27, 2014 opposing the oyster farm’s petition. The brief filed today points out the weaknesses of the government’s opposition brief.

Drakes Bay has argued that the high court should take the case to resolve “the mother of all circuit splits.” A circuit split is an issue on which two or more circuits in the U.S. court of appeals system have given different interpretations of federal law. The splits in this case are on three critical issues: jurisdiction to review agency actions for abuse of discretion, applicability of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and prejudicial error under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

The government’s brief does not dispute the existence of these splits, that these splits affect a fundamental issue of administrative law, or that the issue is of national importance. Because Drakes Bay showed that there is a “reasonable probability” that the Supreme Court will take this case and a “significant possibility” that the oyster farm will win, the Ninth Circuit has allowed Drakes Bay to remain open while it takes its case to the Supreme Court. The cert petition can be found here:

The reply brief can be found here:

Letters – Week of 06/12/14

Much Appreciation to Burton Eubank

The Dance Palace Board wants to express our appreciation and gratitude to Burton Eubank for all that he has done to improve the DP during his tenure as Technical Director. Among his many accomplishments, Burton reworked and rejuvenated the sound system, oversaw the installation of a new and improved lighting system, maintained a ship-shape facility, all the while warmly greeting those coming to the Dance Palace. We wish Burton all the best as he goes forward. Thank you.

– Terry Aleshire, Ann Emanuels, Kathryn Lino, Trish McEneany, Audrey Piper, Mark Ropers, Carla Ruff, Ernesto Sanchez, Raini Kellogg, Stephen Horvat, Susie Stitt, Jane Stringer, Meghan Sullivan, Sarah Hobson

Management Plan Comment

Point Reyes Ranch CMP-EA Superintendent, Point Reyes National Seashore #1 Bear Valley Road Point Reyes, CA 94956

Regarding the proposed New Management Plan for Point Reyes National Seashore Park.

I would like the following to be included in the New Park Management Plan:

1. That all the free roaming Elk now on the south Pastoral (agriculture) Zone be humanely removed off this Zone and returned to their zone Wilderness Area (Limantour). That any deseased Elk at the same time be euthanized. That this Wilderness Area (Limantour) for Elk be appropriately fenced as at Pierce Point. That Elk within this area be carefully monitored and taken care of so that they do not suffer from lack of water and food as the Elk located at Pierce Point. That herd is now very small. That any new Park Staff be advised of the history within the last ten years of problems caused by the Elk in the Pastoral Zone. This also would be a reminder for present Park staff to understand how hard it is for the caretakers of the Pastoral Zone to meet their commitments to organic specifications because of the elk encroachment, drought, high cost of feed, etc. Park Staff knows about the lack of food in the world and should be more accepting of, and helpful to the agricultural community that is under their jurisdiction.

2. That Park Staff treat those who lease land with respect, as well as they would treat each other and Park visitors.

3. That the Park always ask 24/7 for enough staff to deal with all that the Park encompasses, wildlife, beaches, leased land, trails, etc. Most of us who live next to you would back your needs if asked.

4. That an advisory forum be formed from the Park Staff and community members to help with some of the problems that if not addressed have in the past divided this community. This group could help build trust that is now lacking in the community. That the community be advised as soon as possible (by local papers, the local radio station and community flyers) of meetings, problems and decisions that could effect all of us. These actions could also help build more trust and another way for all of us to work together.

5. That this Park Plan provide more and/or better accommodation such as picnic tables, trash containers, benches etc. near parking areas for visitors, particularly for elderly and disabled to use allowing them to view the beach or other features. The Park and the community could hold a competition for such amenities.

6. That this Park Plan provide for Park Staff to address and help the community during emergencies that effect us both (and in turn the community would do the same).

7. That the Park Staff adhere to the new plan, and if changes are made that effect either the Park or the Community, that the community be advised in a timely manner.

8. That Park Staff be made aware that they have a responsibility to recognize our growing population as it effects the Park directly and indirectly.

9. That food producers within the park are encouraged to continue to be as productive as they can and conditions allow. They are aware that 40% of this county lives below the medium wage, and that 1 in 5 children go to bed hungry each night. We are privileged to have the agricultural community in this park, who live and love what they do. I have lived in Inverness which is adjacent to this Park since 1962 and am a long time environmentalist. Being an artist my sculpture represents how people and animals are effected by the negative uses we have injected into our planet and its atmosphere. I find it positive that we have this incredibly beautiful land that is owned by each and every one of us, and that all of us are welcome to see and experience it. I hate to say that I have some very negative feelings regarding the unprofessional ways that some Park Staff have taken to deal with both caretakers and wildlife. My hope is that Park Staff will address the Elk problem as soon as possible so it will not tear this community apart as the Park and some environmentalists did over the DBOC. I believe that moving the Elk off the Pastoral Zones can happen now under the existing 1998 management plan. I believe you have changed zone names and regulations to make the present plan work for park staff needs. Supt. Don Neubacher had no problem with the 1998 management plan in moving Elk out of areas which were Pastoral back to Wilderness areas. I see and hear so much conflicting information from the present Park Staff that I have a very hard time knowing what or who to believe. This is more than disappointing as transparency must be a prerequisite for each of you to be approved to become a member of any National Park Staff. I do however look forward to better times when all of us can come together with no trappings from the past.

Sincerely yours,

Marj Stone Inverness

Badgering my Neighbors, Part Three

Continuing the story of the Badger and its hunting strategy, we will look a little deeper into the typical digging pattern. The shallow digs surrounding the large burrows are sometimes called probe holes. Here, the badger is hunting for a gopher who is out in newly dug tunnels, shallow cul-de-sacs where the gopher is feeding.

The strategy, I think, is to trap the gopher in one of those dead ends where the badger can dig up the gopher faster than the gopher can dig to get away. With each probe dig, the badger is mapping out the gopher’s tunnel system and working his way closer to the hot-smelling, active gopher. My theory is that the badger may actually be herding the gopher into a dead end!

Rough calculations: if a grown badger eats two gophers a night, that’s a lot of gophers! And a lot of badger holes. If a successful pair of badgers produces two litters of four in an excellent year, you’ve got eight badgers consuming several hundred gophers per month! Add in the other gopher predators, the red-tailed hawks and harriers, the coyotes, foxes and bobcats, weasels and skunks, gopher snakes and rattlers, etc.; then add in the voles, mice, brush rabbits, birds, snakes, frogs and other abundant prey, and it is mind-boggling how many animals are being consumed. But that indeed is what is going on out in our fields.

Now, what about the role of the coyote in all of this badger activity? They both love to dig up gopher nests, and their holes are similar sizes. But there are several ways to tell them apart. Inland badgers primarily hunt ground squirrels and coyotes will work with the badger in the hopes of catching a squirrel using an escape hole to make an above ground dash to another burrow system. Gophers don’t escape this way however, so our local coyotes don’t partner up with badgers the same way, but they will both hunt the same gopher territories.

The difference in their digging patterns are tied to their respective morphologies. The badger, with its short legs and low-slung body, digs in at a relatively shallow angle, kicking the soil out behind itself with its partially webbed back feet, and usually the badger hole quickly begins spiraling down. It is amazing to see the speed at which they can dig, soil flying furiously out behind them as they quickly disappear into the ground. With their long claws and powerful arms, they are able to remove rocks as large as softballs, and their “throw-mound” is very large—three to four feet long or more, and is usually thrown in only one direction.

The coyote, on the other hand, digs dog-like, standing on its long back legs while reaching into the hole to dig with its front paws in a paddling digging style, and pulling the soil out with their front feet. They will often work their way around the edges of the hole, spraying the soil in all directions. They leave a much smaller (average 18 inch) throw-mound even if most of it is in one direction, because they are only digging down to the nest.

Both animals make holes that are 8 to 10 inches in diameter. But classically the badger, with its inward turned legs and flattened body, makes a horizontally flattened hole, while the coyote, with its long-legged paddling motion, will tend to make a vertically narrowed hole. But this often doesn’t hold true when the coyote circles the hole while digging. In most cases, the coyote digs much more straight down compared to the shallow ramp of the badger, and the coyote mostly goes for the nest, so it doesn’t leave the messy “probe-hole” pattern around the main digs. Finally, with its lighter-duty digging equipment, the coyote doesn’t dig out rocks much larger than a couple of inches in diameter.

So, like a rare spectacular meteor shower that you might want to get up in the middle of the night to watch, we have a rare opportunity right now to see badger holes in most of our gopher habitats. When you find one, stand back and look at the overall pattern and look for neighboring digs. When you find the dried grass balls of a dug-up nest, look closely and you can see what the gophers have been eating. And look at the side walls of the hole where you can often find grooves left by the large claws.

But always, above all, be respectful in your studies. Give the natives some space. Be careful with your own impact—my goal is to be as invisible and non-disruptive to animals as possible, even while using tracking and awareness skills to get in close amongst them.

Richard Vacha

Pt. Reyes Tracking School

Comments and feedback welcome!

Email me:


Thrift Shop Story: Tiny Odds and Great Ending for Lost Euros

(A)ThriftShopSometimes last February, I brought a bag of various items including my good old purple wallet, that I had carefully completely emptied (or so I thought), to the community thrift store in Point Reyes Station.

I was using a new wallet now, a black one, and everything was dandy. In April, I went to spend a little time in France with my dad. Landing in Lyon on a sunny afternoon, I went straight to rent a car and zoomed out of there without a concern in the world. But then, when I opened my wallet to get Euros to pay for my first French expense…I could not find my French money! I thought I had about 200 Euros in cash with me, but lo and behold, after taking my wallet apart… I had none.

It dawned on me that I must have left my euros in my old purple wallet! I came back from France and another month passed, so busy I never even called the thrift store, until June 6, when I decided to drive over there and take a chance. After all, even if the odds where very small, it was worth trying! I explained my story and left my name and number, hoping for the best, but not holding my breath… Then I went home and got back to work. A few hours later Jane Vait, the manager, called me and said: “Emmeline, I have your euros!” Wow…

As agreed I met Jane at the store, where she gave me back the 210 Euros that she had kept safe all that time, not knowing if she would ever know whose money it had been. Jane and her wonderful staff are the most gentle and dedicated people, they work for the community day in and day out and one is always well received at the store, but this is beyond what one can expect: it is beyond ordinary honesty! The kind of stuff that makes life brilliant and friendly. I am from France, but as a naturalized American, I am very happy to be a West Marinite!

Today, I want to shout a big thank you to Jane and her whole staff for their greatness, and for their honesty! To all the Community Thrift Store staff I say: “You are wonderful! ”

~Emmeline Craig, Painter and owner of the Blissful Gallery in Stinson Beach.

~Like The Thrift store on Facebook: https://www.facebook.comWestMarinCommunityThriftStore

Laura Rogers celebrated at Nicasio School

(A)LauraRogersMay there be a Laura Rogers in every child’s elementary education experience. To borrow from psychologist Rollo May, good teaching, like therapy, is one-third art, one-third skill and one-third friendship. Laura is a teacher with just these skills, and knows before the kids themselves do when to reach out a calming hand. Her past, present and future students will miss her.

Oenophile Junction

Wine Review By Clare Apps

Zocker, 2012 Gruner Veltliner, Paragon Vineyard, Edna Valley – Bright and crisp, this wine shows aromas of fresh pear and crisp apple, with notes of melon and grapefruit. There is a trace of minerality, along with flavors of ripe stone fruits following on the bright and lively dry finish!
Plus, this particular wine also received 90 Points from Wine Enthusiast too! Zocker is part of the Niven portfolio of wines. Hence, this fabulous summer wine will be one of the featured wines we will featuring this Friday, along with the latest vintages of the following:
Tangent Sauvignon Blanc, Tangent Albarino, Tangent Pinot Gris, True Myth Chardonnay and Baileyana Pinot Noir.  There will be special pricing as always plus a 10% 6 bottle mix and match discount.
Come join us tomorrow, June 13th for another fabulous wine tasting! Taste all of the new releases from Tangent and Niven Family Wines, including one of my favorite domestic Gruner Veltliners. The tasting is from 4pm to 6:30pm here at the Palace Market.


Long Awaited Dental Clinic Opens in Point Reyes

By Shelly Ingram

The Coastal Health Alliance (CHA) will open the doors of a new pilot dental program on Wednesday, June 18, 2014.
The pilot program will provide care to existing CHA clients and, at the same time, provide CHA with the opportunity to gather data on the true need for oral health services in West Marin.
Dr. Tina-Lise Curtis and dental assistant, Brytt Adams, will be providing care at the two- chair dental facility every Wednesday and Friday between 8 am and 5 pm in the offices of Dr. Craig Crispin at 60 4th Street, Suite B, in Point Reyes.
While Dr. Crispin is not a member of the new dental team, he agreed to help the fledgling program by renting them space in his already established dental offices on days that he does not see patients. His willingness to collaborate with CHA is allowing the pilot program to launch without funding costly infrastructure.
“He’s been talking to us the whole time,” said Kathleen Roach, Marin County Public Health Nurse. Roach is an active member of the West Marin Health Collaborative (WMHC), a community group that meets once a month to discuss the public health needs of West Marin.
All previous attempts at bringing a subsidized dental care team to West Marin have been short lived due to lack of suitable space, appropriate skills and high operating costs. Undeterred, the members of the WMHC, continued to search for the answer to the local community’s needs, which had been exacerbated by the loss of adult Denti-Cal coverage to Medi-Cal beneficiaries in 2009. The dire need for good dental care in the area was one topic that continually cropped up at their monthly meetings.
In 2011 the group started bringing their need for oral health care to the attention of the Marin County Oral Health Advisory Committee. They also asked local health care consultant, Bobbie Wunsch, to share her findings from the Sonoma County Task Force on Oral Health with the WMHC. One of the first steps was to substantiate the problem with data. But what they found was even more surprising – there was no data.
Determined to find a workable program for West Marin, the WMHC continued reviewing possible programs and researching successful dental alternatives in surrounding counties, including contracting for mobile services. There seemed to be no viable answer to an ever-increasing problem.
Then in the spring of 2013, the CHA got a new Executive Director. Getting a viable dental program in West Marin was one of the first requests that greeted Steven Siegel when he came to town.
“The request came from the community,” Siegel said. “It fits with the Community Health Center mission and model and, since I had experience setting up a similar program in Colorado, I knew the benefits. This pilot offers an opportunity to document need and determine the sustainability of the program.”
Next week, after nearly a year of combined effort and financial help from a $90,000 Marin County Department of Health and Human Services grant to cover set-up costs – the vision will become a reality. Also, in typical West Marin style; individual members of the community are already generously supporting the program. Marilyn and Murry Waldman, of Stinson Beach, had a big anniversary recently and asked their guests, in lieu of gifts, to make donations to CHA. Their gift will serve as the basis for a fund to support CHA’s mission to reduce barriers to dental care.
When its doors open on Wednesday, the first of the approximately 50 CHA clients who have already signed up for the service will have local access to high quality dental care.
“Because affordable dental care has not been available to many local residents, these services will make a significant difference in the overall health of many individuals and to the health of the community,” Siegel said.
Program priorities are to stop pain and infection and save teeth. Services provided include: cleanings, oral exams, fillings, fluoride varnishing and extractions. In collaboration with CHA medical providers, these much needed services will be provided first to children, pregnant women and chronic diseased patients. The opening fortuitously coincides with the restoration of some of the adult Denti-Cal coverage to Medi-Cal beneficiaries on May 1, 2014.
“As a patient-centered health home, CHA is pleased to add Oral Health to our Medical and Behavioral Health services, rounding out whole-person, comprehensive primary care services,” Siegel said.
Due to the limited capacity of this pilot program, dental services will only be available to established CHA patients from all three sites. No private dental insurance will be accepted and discounts will be available based on income levels.
For appointment information or to confirm eligibility for the program contact the Dental Services Coordinator, Sandra Alvarez at 415.787.1123.



Cultural Potholes

Every day there are 227,000 more of us, and every day dozens of our fellow species become extinct. Our proliferation and profligacy are the main causes of Earth’s current mass extinction. Species are dying out at a rate of over 1,000 times the natural rate of extinction.
Humans are accustomed to striving for excess, stuck in our destructive consumptions, too proud of our ‘progress’ to think of easing back. That rapacious pattern was formed when there were far fewer humans and continues even though there are now over 7 billion of us, with far more damaging tools and weapons.
The Human Touch is everywhere – our nuclear fallout and carbon footprints, our toxins and trash, our ravaged landscapes, our insatiable thirst for resources and disregard for ‘lesser’ species. The ‘civilized’ world plundered its ex-colonies, but the rulers of ‘developing’ countries yearn for the lifestyle that is accelerating the current wholesale extinction of planetary life.
Should we just sit back and watch nature documentaries about disappearing animals, enjoying our own creature comforts that our great-grandchildren will hear of only in legend? Or defy tradition and our male gods and make contraception freely available to all women everywhere?
Women free to choose are cultural change-makers.


If there were ten thousand web sites for Kentucky Mountain Horses I would have visited them all. That’s probably better than telling everyone I visited ten thousand sites, if better means sticking to what seems plausible. I could also say it felt like ten thousand, or might just as well have been ten thousand, by the time I gave up from sheer, irritable exhaustion.

Day and sometimes nights for months I’d been writing to the breeders, getting into phone conversations, explaining that I wanted a the dark brown “chocolate” color horse, with flaxen mane and tail with white leg markings no higher than the knee. They told me they were so rare I wouldn’t find one unless I was willing to wait for years, and even then, I’d probably miss out. A horse matching this description would be snatched up by local breeders and would not be advertised on line. This was the paragon, the ideal horse within the breed, most highly prized as a show horse and I had to admit, for sheer stunning beauty they left my Cooper in the dust.   Their flaxen manes were three feet long, their tails touched the ground. One breeder said to me, with undisguised scorn, that she bred for riding and not for color and I almost said, well I guess you’ve never imagined being drawn up to heaven in a chariot by a winged horse. I should have said it. But in those days I was trying to monitor myself.

At night, looking up at the stars from the hot tub, I would think about the horses in Plato’s fable of the soul.   The horse on the right is said to be upright and cleanly made: he has a lofty neck, an aquiline nose, and dark eyes. This is the horse of our nobility, the lover of honor, modesty and temperance. Guided by word alone, no hand need touch him with the whip. But his partner is that horse you never want to own; put together anyhow, short-necked, flat-faced, with blood-red complexion and lousy conformation. A creature of undeserved pride and insolence, lust and disobedience, uncontrollable by whip and spur, an altogether bad fellow. I thought I was probably old enough now to have tamed lust and disobedience, ready to follow the gods in modesty and holy fear. Wasn’t I? All I needed was the world’s most beautiful horse.

Village wisdom came to my aid again. I wasn’t a breeder, I wasn’t local to Kentucky, it might seem ostentatious for a relatively new rider to be seen cavorting with the world’s most beautiful horse. Who could disagree? The sight of not exactly a spring chicken astride this paragon might strike some people as incongruous.   I should keep riding and taking lessons and wait for the right, older, local horse to come along. Invitations came pouring in, sometimes from people at three or even four degrees of separation: through the waitress at the Station House, whose mother’s mother-in-law’s sister lived in Inverness. And there was the open invitation to ride the Danish Warm Bloods, one of which had already been picked out for me. I never said, ‘Yes, but do you have Kentucky Mountain Horses? And is one of them a dark, chocolate brown with a flaxen mane?’

I         knew I was always a step ahead of myself, wanting a horse before I knew how to ride, insisting on a young horse before I knew how to buckle a bridle, dashing off after a particular kind of horse when I’d only ever seen one of its kind. The Woman from the Paris Café thought that I was learning in the best way possible what an open-hearted and generous village we had chosen. Not that I ever took anyone’s advice. Waiting, insisting on the impossible may certainly have given the appearance that I had given up hope

Horses bring out the best in people. Equestrian generosity can be found even in the cyber world, as I discovered when a message came in from a complete stranger in Tennessee. I must have written to her months before when I was still desperately seeking a Kentucky Mountain Horse, hopeful and excited until it turned out there were no horses like the horse I had met at the Morgan Ranch. Of course not, he must have been a vision. She suggested I write to Jim and Diana Sarber, breeders of Kentucky Mountain Horses in Bedford, Kentucky. Their website announced that the family “attended Milton United Methodist Church and was dedicated to the Lord and living by his word.” To live by the lord’s word was not the same as living by magic but these devotions shared an affinity, both requiring a certain kind of risky trust. For sale were: Dakota Kate, an experienced trail mare, a lovely creature with a high head, winner of show prizes. A gelding called Copper, a chestnut with a mane 24 inches long.   Copper, whose name was almost Cooper, had one of the prettiest heads the Sarbers had ever seen.

The horses for sale were as beautiful as the horse I had seen at the Morgan Ranch and had all the fantastic characteristics his owner had described. I wasn’t exactly in love with them but it was time, I told myself, to accept the world as it is. They were affordable and available and all I had to do was fly down to Bedford to meet the Sarbers who had invited me to stay. Why not go? I was pretty sure I wouldn’t have to buckle anything.

On the other hand, one’s true nature sometimes doesn’t change over night. I can’t speak for others but mine didn’t. I had caught a glimpse of the Sarbers’ stud horse, a marvelous creature named Chisolm, with his dark chocolate coat, his flaxen mane and tail and four discreet white socks. All at once, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to have found the horse I was looking for. The months of trying and failing fell away, the drama was gone, I didn’t shout or cavort, I sat quietly gazing at his photograph. They were displaying him because he had sired a number of their colts and fillies but he was not for sale. Not for sale? Why would I be deterred?

It’s probably not wise to go about harboring convictions but a conviction is not really something you can choose to have. They roam around looking for someone to inhabit, anyone who will offer them a long stay and not easily trade them in. I’m as willing as the next person to change my mind but somehow I never get around to it. One minute a conviction doesn’t exist, the world is a tumultuous hazard, the next minute you know beyond any question of doubt you can get something you’ve wanted. I don’t know if it’s good or bad to be chosen by a conviction but I know it won’t let go once it’s taken hold. In that sense a conviction bears a striking resemblance to our local ticks.

Jim Serber and I were having almost daily conversations. He was a man who liked to talk, I a woman who loved to listen. He asked me if I went regularly to church and I answered without hesitation. My church was Millerton Point and the Vedanta and Bear Valley and the rocks up near our house where the land slopes down roughly into the bay. There are two year-round ponds (of course I refer to them as lakes.) During the rainy season another shallow pond shows up where white herons like to congregate. My bird book says that herons are a solitary bird but I saw seven of them at one time together in the seasonal pond, startled off over my head when I got too close, in an anxious flurry of white feathers. Omen? It didn’t matter.

Jim told me he was getting on in years and was tired of breeding and raising horses. Before Chisolm had been cut, he had fathered a filly that looked exactly like him: dark chocolate, flaxen mane and tail, a perfect blaze like the tail of a comet. Jim and Diana Farber were looking forward to showing them off together, father and daughter, a perfectly matched pair. Jim told me he would only sell his horses to people who would love them and never mistreat them. I ventured the opinion that Christian people, if they were true Christians, could not possibly mistreat a horse.   “Not if they follow the word of God,” Jim replied; an awareness on his part, I thought, that not all who call themselves Christians deserve the name. But could it also mean that people who did not call themselves Christians might live by the values the Sarbers’ believed were Christian?

I thought so. And that’s what I was counting on. Why want something if it is possible to get it?

Kim Chernin is a fiction and nonfiction writer, feminist, poet, and memoirist who lives in Point Reyes Station. She has just published a book together with her wife Renate Stendhal, Lesbian Marriage: A Sex Survival Kit.




Wine Wednesdays for Women Makes Its Debut

(A)wineWednesdayMissy Will’s key lime mini cupcakes, one heavenly bite of pure happiness, were the hit of Inverness Garden Club’s recent tea party. One minute the tiered carousel held dozens of the little beauties, and the next moment they were just a sweet and tangy memory. Perfect one-bite dainties are just one of Missy’s specialties.

Missy arrived In Point Reyes Station just a year ago, bringing good luck with her. She managed to find the house that was waiting for her, a charming cottage with the perfect kitchen. Artist that she is, she calls the kitchen her studio. The kitchen studio adjoins a large pantry where all the tools of her trade are neatly arranged on shiny shelves. The kitchen table seats six and the large bar can accommodate another six. It is here in this warm, inviting space

that Missy teaches cooking classes, holds wine tastings and special luncheons and dinners.

Beginning June 25, Missy will share her passion for connecting wine and people through a series of “Wine Wednesdays for Women”. Participants will bring a bottle of their favorite Spanish wine (theme changes each week) and Missy will pair it with appetizers. The event is by reservation only. For further details call

Call (415) 663-8795.


Missy is a graduate of Laguna Culinary Arts and WSETII Certified, Tasting Room Manager Sonoma State University Certified, and a member of Women and Wine and Wine Sense (Napa/ Sonoma Chapter. She specializes in local wine events/corporate team building and wine tastings.