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I am a wildlife artist who specializes in the inspirational and accurate portrayal of birds. I was raised in a family of artists and lovers of all things natural. This combination of creativity and care for our natural world has hopefully become manifest in my works and images. If you are interested in learning more about how I first got inspired to look at and then begin illustrating birds, go to my website.
Please feel free to stop by the gallery for current art projects, images, prints, and more. Available on the site you will find limited edition, numbered and signed giclee prints from Birds of the Sierra authored by Edward Pandolfino and Edward Beedy. You are welcome to visit the gallery in Bolinas.
We’re a small water buffalo dairy in West Petaluma, California. Every day we milk our buffalo herd just a hundred feet from our creamery and this allows us to make a truly farmstead and handcrafted gelato. A lot of people ask us “Why buffalo milk?” It’s simple: Buffalo milk is the richest, creamiest milk on the planet.
Diekmann’s General Store, Tomales.
The building that now houses Diekmann’s General Store, built in 1867, was, in its earliest years, Newburgh & Kahn’s, whose stock included groceries, dry goods, hardware, clothes, hay and grain, coal, gun powder, lumber, wallpaper, and furnishings. After three more owners Walter Diekmann purchased the business in 1948.
One of the four Diekmann brothers to make a mark on the North Bay grocery business (older brother William owned the 405 Market in Santa Rosa, Herman operated Diekmann’s Bay Store in Bodega Bay, and Ed Diekmann would later be proprietor of Valley of the Moon Market in Glen Ellen), Walt Diekmann was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Iowa. He and Mildred Bartels had been married less than two years, and had a new baby boy named Billy, when a phone call came from the older brother, William, bringing a message echoing countless others that had been crossing the country for a hundred years: “there’s money to be made in California!”
After an investigatory trip to look over a Tomales general store that was for sale, Diekmann returned to Iowa, where he and Mildred auctioned most of their household goods , packed the rest in a tiny, one-wheeled trailer, and set off with 1 ½ year-old Bill for California. The Diekmann family eventually included three children, Bill, Mark and Kristin, and even after Mildred’s sad and unexpected death-Kristin was only two years old-Walt managed, with help from relatives and neighbors, to raise the kids and work 6 and a half days a week. As the children grew they took part in the business, absorbing the finer points of small town storekeeping along the way.
Everyone, it seems, has memories of Diekmann’s General Store: the ice water-filled, lidded barrel with bottles of soft drinks inside, the post office at the rear of the store, and the well-filled comic book rack at the front corner, where the patient proprietor put up with the frequent reading-and not so frequent buying-of local kids.
After Walt Diekmann died in 1972, Bill and Kristin took over the business (which they sold, while maintaining ownership of the building, in 2000). In the late ‘70’s Bill oversaw the rehabilitation of the venerable building, which included restoration of some original cabinetry and other interior details. The store, a focal point of the village’s commercial district, has deservedly become a beloved icon of Tomales. Kristin now runs the Two Silos Mercantile on the second floor which offers antiques, consignment and selected seconds merchandise.
Excerpted with permission, from the Tomales Regional History Center Bulletin, October 2006. Editor Ginny Magan
Leave Point Reyes Station behind and head west, cross The Green Bridge and follow the sign for Inverness. This is Sir Francis Drake Blvd, named for the infamous British Admiral – explorer or pirate, who may or may not have landed at Drake’s Beach. Take a left on Bear Valley Road to access the lovely Limantour Beach or the Point Reyes National Seashore Visitor Center. At the visitor center Park rangers are available to give out information about the light-house, whale-watching, Tule elk, hiking trails, conditions in the park, history, wildlife, the ranches and more. There are books for purchase and free brochures with trail maps.
Continuing north on SFD, the first settlement is Inverness Park, founded in 1911 around a trout hatchery. Perry’s Deli has been beautifully renovated and the name changed to Inverness Park Market. Chef Ed Vigil is turning out sumptuous deli food and offers complete dinner specials, changing each night. You may enjoy your meal with a glass of wine at the adjoining Gather at the Market. Their fresh fruit smoothies are not-to-be missed. Next door, in the fanciful driftwood covered cottage, Spirit Matters, you’ll find one of a kind gifts. Friendly Motel Inverness, exuding the rustic chalet atmosphere typical of Inverness, beckons overnight guests.
Move on now to Inverness. Along the way enjoy lovely views across Tomales Bay
of the rolling hills of the eastern ranches, green in winter months, yellow in the summer. In “Downtown Inverness” a jewel of a pocket park featuring native plants is tucked beside the parking lot for Saltwater, the Post Office and Saltwater Depot. There are picnic tables here in the pretty park and more across the way behind the Inverness Store, where you can picnic near the much photographed wreck of an old fishing boat. The general store has picnic supplies, deli sandwiches, wine and beer, ice and a terrific selection of ice cream. On sunny days you may find BBQ’d oysters.
Affable Luc Chamberland’s much praised restaurant “Saltwater” has become the heart of this tight knit community. The menu showcases oysters and a treasure trove of organic Marin products.
Vladimir’s Czech Restaurant is a cozy spot for ice cold beer in the warm and friendly old world pub and a full service restaurant providing lunch and dinners, featuring roast duckling, wienerschnitzel, Moravian cabbage rolls, kilbasa, and apple strudel, a full bar, an outdoor patio. Vladimir’s daughter Vladia is usually on hand to steer wayfarers toward local treasures. Stroll down the lane beside Vladimir’s to the charming Inverness Library and Jack Mason Museum, across from the historic Ten Inverness Way, a popular Bed and Breakfast. When the library is open, the friendly librarians are the go-to source of information and local lore. Down the road The Dancing Coyote Beach Guest Cottages offer peaceful waterfront lodging. Don’t forget Manka’s Inverness Lodge up the hill on the left on Aberdeen Way, a 1910 hunting and fishing lodge built in the Arts and Crafts style.
The lovely old St. Columbo’s Episcopal Church and Retreat House was visited by Prince Charles and Camilla in 2005. The Retreat House offers worship and meeting spaces and overnight accommodations. Further up SFD on the right is the Tomales Bay Resort, a classic Marin family resort, newly renovated. The resort has an onsite activity center offering kayaks, bikes, hikes, massages, a marina and a boat launch and a swimming pool. Continuing on, Chicken Ranch beach is hidden on the right – no signage, but cars parked along the road give a clue. This beach, with its very shallow water, is the perfect place to take the little ones and the dog and you can put in your kayak here. Where the road turns west, the ecofriendly resort, The Cottages at Point Reyes, is a delightful place to stay.
If the pounding surf of the blue Pacific is your destination, a broad, wild breath-taking panorama awaits you out in the historic ranch land area of the Point Reyes Seashore.
Here at the end of the continent visit the Lighthouse, Chimney Rock and the Tule Elk Preserve. Visit www.nps.gov/pore or phone the Bear Valley Visitor Center at (415) 464-5100 for the most up-to-date information on the Park.
Keith Hansen and his Bolinas Wildlife Gallery and Studio
By Charles Post
Sixteen years and 1,400 paintings later, Keith Hansen has once again garnished and expanded our visual exploration and reference of avian ecology, a feat of epic proportions, one that truly captures the beauty of 320 bird species, all of whom call our beloved Sierra Nevada home. This comprehensive text, titled “Birds of the Sierra Nevada: Their Natural History, Status and Distribution”, authored by Ted Beedy and Ed Pandolfino, will surely become a hallmark for decades to come – a true masterpiece and gift to naturalists and birders from across the globe.
Keith Hansen has long used his artistic prowess to capture the innate, aesthetic subtleties and showy qualities of avifauna from Marin to Mexico and beyond. His card-carrying zeal for birds stems way back to a fateful encounter with an ornate cedar waxwing in Maryland’s broad-leafed forests, a formative moment which propelled Keith on a trajectory that would prove to bisect and intermingle with habitats, landscapes and wildlife research stations from the Galapagos to the Farallon Islands – the latter of which is a series of islets whose jagged crests rise from the Pacific some 30 miles outside the Golden Gate; these islands, and the North American mainland that dominates it’s easterly views, would prove to be a focal point of Keith’s love-affair with the birds of California.
It may even be fair to say that the Farallon Islands are to blame for that initial tug which would inspire Keith to begin laying roots here in Bolinas. One day in particular stands out; when Keith was only in 10th grade he first stepped foot onto those craggy, windswept islands, becoming the youngest Point Reyes Bird Observatory intern ever to work on the Farallons up to that point, a day which marked the first of over 150 more, which Keith continued to spend studying and becoming familiar with the ebb and flow of avian migrants that perennially imbue our skies, creeks, coastlines, marshes, forests and grasslands with splashes of radiance and feverish chatter. This initial attraction to northern California, and specifically the Farallon Islands and West Marin, would, in 1986, land him in Bolinas, and five years later, in 1991, the Bolinas Wildlife Gallery & Studio opened it’s doors.
Today, the Bolinas Wildlife Gallery and Studio has become a destination and hub. With a near steady stream of serendipitous, seasoned and studious visitors, paired with Keith’s hospitality and gregarious, genial nature, it’s not uncommon for this cozy studio to burst at the seams with eager eyes gazing across the avian adorned walls, tables and shelves. Once you’ve entered the portal, and the well-used, white door closes behind you, soon-to-be and self-proclaimed bird lovers find themselves immersed in a world that celebrates and reveres birds, their peculiarities, unique plumage, curious bills, and their fellow Aves whom together represent beloved bird communities from across the globe.
And it’s no coincidence that Bolinas became Keith’s hometown; Bolinas and the greater Point Reyes peninsula is widely known as a hub for birds in and of itself. Remarkably, more bird species have been found in the Point Reyes eco-region than 44 of the 50 states in America; that is, only 6 state’s entire bird list is greater in terms of species richness than that of Point Reyes – which encompasses Bolinas – and data suggests that’s over 500 species! Furthermore, the number of species visually identified from the Bolinas Wildlife Gallery and Studio alone, which currently stands at 225 species, represents 22.5 percent of all the bird species in North America, and holds the title as the most birds identified from any single room on the continent. Just to put that incredible statistic into a global context, Keith recently returned from a lodge situated in a pristine, southern Costa Rican rainforest, with a “Lodge List” (i.e., number of bird species identified from the lodge itself), which topped out at 245 species – and that’s in Costa Rica!
So, it’s clear that we West Marin folk are a lucky bunch, living amongst one of the world’s most unique and rich ecosystems, and just a short drive from Keith Hansen’s Bolinas Wildlife Gallery and Studio. With Keith’s sixteen year, mammoth contribution to the “Birds of the Sierra Nevada: Their Natural History, Status and Distribution,” you may ask what could Keith be up to next? Well, a “Field Guide To The Birds Of The Sierra Nevada” of course! Keith’s back at it, embarking on a scholastic and artistic endeavor which will certainly prove to be epic in it’s contribution to our hikes and adventures in those luminous mountains, John Muir’s beloved “Range of Light”. And thankfully, Keith doesn’t plan to leave us, or Bolinas any time soon. With smiling eyes, Keith proclaimed: “the longer I live here, the more I realize how unique this place is. What makes Bolinas special is just that it’s so unique, the fact that it’s nestled in this crossroads – if you will – literally on the san Andréa’s fault, riding piggyback between the pacific plate and the continental plate, and just the confluence of so many different types of habitat: the oceanic, the coastal, coastal rock, coastal sand, the lagoon, the mudflats, all of the tidal marsh, the forest, the alder & willow river habitat, the freshwater marsh, the Bolinas sewage ponds, all of these different habitats… that all converge on one small area that really makes Bolinas quite an amazing allure for anybody who’s interested in nature and especially birds. But then socially, morally, ethically, the town is my style, and I just love it here, and love the people and the creativity that flows through the town. And I think it’s probably what everybody else likes about it, it’s surrounded and shrouded with beauty…[where you] can breathe freely.”
If you’re interested in visiting Keith or the Bolinas Wildlife Gallery and Studio, you’ll find him at 48 Wharf Road, adjacent to the Bolinas Museum.
By Mary Olsen
A Louisiana themed dinner at the new Gather space at Perry’s was a big success Saturday, January 24, thanks to Chef Ed Vigil’s familiarity with the lusty, flamboyant cuisine. Ed’s wife, Dee Wagner, from New Orleans, has apparently had a delicious influence on Ed.
The evening began promptly at 6 pm with a plate of tasty little bites, one of which was alligator with a cornmeal crust, which was why I had signed up for the dinner. Yes, it does taste like chicken, almost exactly. Same texture, too. It shared space with a little crab pancake and a crawfish beignet, both with spicy, interesting sauces.
The servers for the evening, Molli Milner and Lea Hickman, were gracious and adept at serving the thirty plus patrons. Despite the awkwardness of having to go outside the deli to get to the dining space, the food was served hot from the kitchen and people at each table were all served at the same time – great teamwork.
A Romaine salad came next. Thinly slice Tasso Ham, a southern specialty that resembles prosciutto, corn bread croutons, smoked cheddar cheese had just the right amount of vinaigrette. The salad and the tasty bites would have made a satisfying supper for me,
I wasn’t prepared for the enormous red snapper that suddenly swam onto my plate. The red fish on a pink little pond of crab and shrimp sauce looked lovely. t was perfectly cooked. My only whine was that my lemon was thinly sliced so it made squeezing it difficult and messy.
My dining companion, Mr. Olsen, chose the Devil’s Gulch pork chop. They must have really big hogs over there at Devil’s Gulch. I’ve never seen such a huge chop in all my life. It was served with dirty rice, which looked and tasted a lot like risotto to me. And it didn’t taste dirty at all. The collard greens were also lightly and cleanly cooked, not braised all day. They retained their shiny green brightness.
The third choice of the evening was gumbo with chicken and sausage. No one at my table ordered it, so unfortunately I didn’t get to taste it. I asked the diners at the next table how they liked it, but no one offered me a bite. I’ll be keeping an eagle eye out for it in case Ed puts it on his weekly menu in the future. It looked gorgeous. (Ed creates a complete and different dinner every night and sends out a weekly e-mail to those who’ve signed up in the store. The meals are between $17 and $21/person. Bring your own container and get a $1 off.)
Our tablemates, newlyweds Elizabeth Hill and Chris Eckert, who had just returned from their wedding in New Orleans, declared their meals authentic and as wonderful as anything they had had on their honeymoon. Perhaps is was their infectious happiness that made the evening such a glowing success?
Dessert was warm beignets with a coffee bourbon sauce. I was more than pleasantly full so I took mine home and had them for breakfast on Sunday morning. A few minutes in the toaster oven and I was sitting at the Cafe Du Monde, beside the Mississippi, watching the River Queen load her passengers.
Duxbury Reef, located at the edge of the Bolinas headland as the largest shale reef in North America. This reef and its surrounding waters are home to billions of creatures from the microscopic to harbor seals, sharks and visiting whales–in an ecosystem of truly astonishing complexity. Our human experience of the reef is enriched if we know how to respect and protect this ecosystem while learning about its fascinating inhabitants. On Saturday October 25, the Bolinas Museum presents Ocean Wonders: Sea & Sunset tour, (by reservation) a tide pool etiquette walk with Bruce Bowser, who serves on the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) Advisory Council and is a trained reef docent for the GFNMS and the California Academy of Sciences’ Rocky Shore Partnership.
The Gold Rush era ship Duxbury left its name on the reef after briefly running aground, but the three miles of rough reef rock has been the scene of many shipwrecks. The reef’s shale is sturdy enough to withstand the powerful ocean, yet soft enough for such organisms as sea urchins, chitons and rock boring clams to make countless niches for themselves and others. Reef inhabitants evolved ingenious adaptations for withstanding the intense challenge of living in a fierce environment of pounding waves and inundation by seawater alternating with exposure at low tide to drying sun and wind and to predators. They must also adjust salt content in their bodies, have very specific feeding and protective techniques and now face warming water temperatures. Add to these challenges the incursion of humans.
Generations of visitors to the reef have trampled reef life and carried off countless buckets of animals–from Bay area families foraging snails, abalone, crab, clams, mussels and seaweed for food and scientists over-collecting, to casual visitors or bus loads of school children. Toxins from shipwrecks, land run off and chemicals are another threat.
All have unintended but devastating effects on the fragile balance of this ecosystem.
Conservation of Duxbury Reef was instigated by Gordon Chan, a marine biology professor at College of Marin, who intensely studied the reef in the 1960s. Alarmed by his findings, he compiled irrefutable scientific evidence that the health of this reef depended on it being protected. Chan’s leadership resulted in Marin County creating Duxbury Reef State Marine Reserve in 1971. Yet it took decades more to protect the reef as it is today– under firm state and federal regulations, with Marin County Parks jurisdiction of the upland area.
Over several decades Gordon Chan, fellow marine biology professor Al Molina and former County Naturalist Bob Stewart were instrumental in educating and inspiring thousands of students and the public to value the reef. That legacy is carried on today
by educators like Professor Joe Mueller at College of Marin, and dedicated conservation organizations with members like Bruce Bowser who work to protect the reef through monitoring and education.
Bowser’s lifelong passion for ocean advocacy led him to the GFNMS Advisory Council in 2006, where he also chaired the working group that developed the Bolinas Lagoon Ecosystem Restoration Project. Bowser has dedicated much of his adult life to grassroots and environmental non-profit work. He is semi retired as an international commercial interior and graphic design professional. He and his wife Marlie de Swart moved to Bolinas in 1992. Bowser’s deep commitment to preservation and his joy in sharing the wonder of Duxbury Reef are contagious. Tour space is limited so please make your reservation now by calling (415) 868-0330. $20 general / $15 Bolinas Museum members. For more information visit bolinasmuseum.org. This event is part of the Ocean: Wonders & Wellness exhibitions and programming at Bolinas Museum where admission to the Museum is always free.