Canyon Beat: ​​

Memory and desire, stirring...

By Andrew Tonkovich

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz. I wonder where the dozers is.  Alas, the birds are on the wing, some permanently, as canyonites ride, hike or drive home through battalions of bulldozers here and approaching, with surrounding open space under the gun of developments once abandoned, then reinstated, shrunk in size, but looming.  Apparently somebody dusted off those old EIRS in time for the economic recovery, with plans for Santiago Hills Phase II reappearing, even as the wild chaparral graded 10 years ago finally got comfortable again.  Perhaps the meeting held this month, with special Inter-Canyon League guest and recently applauded specific  plan-defender  Supervisor Todd Spitzer, will answer concerns about how to respond.

Meanwhile, the reliably obstinate eco-warrior-for-you Joel Robinson’s poetic public letter appeals to the better natures of our nature unpreservers, with a lovely Whitmanic mini-catalog of critters:  “Our family looks forward to seeing our favorite roadrunner, white-tailed kite, meadowlarks, great blue heron, great egret or deer traverse the development project site.  I have even seen a long-tailed weasel in that area.  We know these species will no longer occur in the project area...”  He speaks for many as he writes, “We breathe easy every time we glance at the rolling hills covered in shrubs, grassland and wildflowers. We now hold our breath in anxiety as we pass by.” Arguing that the original Environmental Impact Report is now out of date, Robinson objects to destroying the “natural and cultural history of East Orange.”

And why not?  In the spring a young or old man’s or woman’s fancy lightly turns to love, political activism, and perhaps upcoming elections, with time to consider what our next Silverado-Modjeska Recreation and Parks District might look like after the hills have gone brown, or just gone, depending.

Time’s running out

Who knows if two current SMRPD board members will be prevailed upon to extend further their public service in local governance.  They are (all five) busy people, with Director Phil McWilliams writing grants for Coastkeeper in his free time, and acting as site captain for the annual Intercoastal Cleanup effort. SMRPD website guru Kevin Topp (board president) produces the wildly popular summer music concerts, which start up again in May.  The peripatetic Chay Peterson advocates for the Children’s Center, lately in the black, and is organizing the upcoming Chili Cook-Off to benefit that project. As if not performing enough good Samaritanism in this community, Directors Debbie Johnson and John Olson feel compelled to decamp to slums in Kenya to work with  Johnson’s nonprofit  Give a Child Life Kenya foundation, where they recently helped install ingenious “Mabati light bulbs” on the roofs of family homes. Filled with water and bleach, these plastic soda bottles refract daytime sunlight and illuminate a dark room, 55 watts’ worth, not to mention the imagination. The election of two board seats is in November.  Meanwhile, thanks to Janet Lang of Modjeska, coordinator of Canyons Lunch Bunch, Thursdays at Silverado Community Center, featuring movie screenings and bingo. SMRPD’s new administrator is Cressa Cruzan, managing both community centers, recreation program and facility rentals, and eagerly accepting your dog’s RSVP for Rattlesnake Aversion Training, Sun-day, April 10, 8:30 a.m., if you are not averse to getting up that early.  Cost: $75 per doggie, of which $15 goes in SMRPD’s kitty.

This month’s regular SMRPD meeting is Tuesday, April 26, 6:30 p.m. at the Hunt Building.  Before then, assemble your donations for the Library Swap Meet, as organizers need them before the Saturday, April 30 parking lot  bazaar  benefiting Friends of the Library of the Canyons.  The annual Modjeska Fire Station Awards  Dinner and Raffle is Saturday, April 23 at the Mis-sion Viejo Elks Lodge. Cocktails, 6:30 p.m.; dinner at 7 p.m.

This year’s Cinco de Mayo Chili Cook-Off is actually on Saturday, Siete de Mayo.  The 11th annual festival (May 7) is at the Community Center “fairgrounds,” not at Irvine Lake, or what’s left of it.  We await news on the future of that shallow, if enduring, attraction which hosted for so many years.

“Can one desire,” we are asked in As You Like It, “too much of a good thing?”  Yes, you can, and act upon it too.  At our own Arden, named for the forest in Shakespeare’s play, the county-run Modjeska Historic House and Gardens invites volunteers who’d like to call Madame’s house “home,” at least while helping maintain its sprawling grounds and gorgeous gardens, fountains, fruit trees, paths, newly refurbished and looking good.  Make Madame proud, and enjoy pre-tending for a morning that you are Theodore Payne himself, that famous So Cal horticulturalist who did the same for her and hubby Count Bozenta a hundred years ago.  It’s just the right amount of a good and do-gooder thing, every other Thursday at 10 a.m.