December 2015

Canyon Beat:

Calm Before the Storm

By Andrew Tonkovich

This arch-folksy, yet winningly sincere, column results mostly from listening to neighbors, activ­ists and elected leaders who share their news and perspectives with your (un)humble scribe. There’s lots to report, or so they tell me, and so I tell you. For instance, Ranger Sue McIntire, our depart­mental doyen of all things Arden (“historic resource manager”), brags justifiably about the near completion of a Stanford White-designed fountain on the grounds of the historic Helena Modjeska house, with careful removal of modern additions and repairs to one of Madame Mo’s favorite features, revealing the cracked and worn, but gorgeous, original. OC Parks crews are completing further restorations, in addition to clearing creek and adjacent prop­erty in anticipation of El You- Know-Who.

Lucille Cruz, super-librarian, asks you to admire another gor­geous annual artifact of bespoke canyons culture, hung in the li­brary window in celebration of literacy and the public good. Lo­cal library boosters again created a much-coveted unique hand­made quilt, posing as fundraising raffle prize. Canyon pride is the theme, ‘natch, and anyone would be proud to display or sleep un­der this beauty. Odds of owner­ship lean toward those purchas­ing mucho tickets, with a winner chosen 6:30, Monday, Dec. 21. Two nights later, St. Nick arrives to delight kids and parents.

Silverado-Modjeska Recre­ation and Parks hosted a Thanks­giving potluck organized by Big Mike, and celebrates Senior Lunch Bunch on Thursday, Dec. 17, with a holiday cookie party. Director Chay Peterson seems pretty darn pleased about the suc­cess of the 45th annual Silverado Country Fair. Despite low atten­dance due to high temps, admis­sion and vendor proceeds (de­livered to Inter-Canyon League at its November meeting) were down. “However,” speculates Pe­terson, “the heat must have driv­en the rest of us to drink ‘cuz the ‘first ever’ ICL saloon did quite well.” Beer-soaked dollars go to the general fund to help neigh­bors suffering harm from, you guessed it, storm damage.

Up a creek

Geoff “Slow-Hand” Sarkissian and Linda May say the big Inter- Canyon League news is Connie Nelson’s (go figure) and Assistant Sheriff’s Department Emergency Coordinator Vicki Osborn’s se­curing of permission from Cali­fornia Fish and Wildlife to clean portions of Silverado Creek of dead alders and potential mud debris. Ditto Joanne Hubble for Modjeska. ICL volunteers will do the actual work, with every­body counting on cooperation from homeowners to sign pa­perwork, which transforms them ipso on the facto, into official ICL DIY volunteers, who can then perform cleanup themselves. See the “creekbed cleanup” tab on ICL website, and submit your on­line application now.

Potential flood zones, points out local environmental teacher-activist Joel “Naturalist for You” Robinson, are also habitats. He urges thoughtful and prudent pruning, pointing out that the Pacific-slope flycatcher nests in those dead alders, the endangered arroyo toad burrows in perfectly lovely sediment, the slender sala­mander digs rotten wood, and Mr. Western Pond Turtle hap­pily hibernates in muddy water. Robinson can provide an even longer roster of permanent and visiting residents, and offers that, “As flooding has always been a natural, reliable occurrence in the canyon, I suggest human resi­dents prepare and modify their own dwellings versus modify the dwellings of wildlife species perfectly adapted for floods and other aspects of canyon living. Thanks for the consideration!” (You’re welcome!)

Take a bough

Paul Netter, So Cal Edison’s media relations rep, shares im­pressive stats by way of the util­ity’s side of storm preparation. When Netter says tree trimming, he’s not talking tinsel, bows and lights. In fact, he counts an es­timated 2,800 trees of different species and various growth char­acteristics in our arboreal envi­rons, all potential threats. SCE inspects them in both canyons through its vegetation operations, respecting the January nesting season, and also following a fire management schedule. So those fellows in helmets and gloves rid­ing cherry pickers out in front of your property in recent months represent just one of at least 1,600 individual trims so far this year alone, in addition to complete removal and overhang limb cor­rections, not counting responses to downed trees after recent wind storms. Edison staff is assigned to OC’s fire prevention council and attends monthly meetings for vegetation control and fire pre­vention.

In non-storm news, one local spouse and proud mama insists on mention of a young canyon thespian’s second (!) appearance in South Coast Repertory’s near-legendary annual production of “A Christmas Carol.” Cast three years ago in the role of “Boy Ebenezer” Scrooge in the long-running show, this holiday season finds one Louis Alvarez Tonkov­ich back on stage, this time as Peter Cratchit. Through Dec. 27.

Finally, need an end-of-year tax deduction? People tell me you might consider donating to support the work of any of our fine canyon do-goodniks, who welcome your generous contribu­tions: Silverado Children’s Cen­ter, Helena Modjeska Foundation, Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary, Natu­ralist for You, Modjeska Ranch Rescue, Friends of the Silverado Library (ICL). God bless them, every one.