Monday, March 31, 2008

Good Reading and Good Going

Leaves of Grass is a full-service, independent bookseller with the latest titles always available. Many author events feature local writers. The business owners of these first several storefronts sing the praises of their landlord. And each tenant has done beautiful work with their improvements as a result, which benefits everyone, and draws more foot-traffic to the eastern promenade of central Main Street.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dormant Oaks on Haehl Creek

A few years ago, a visitor from Silicon Valley came up for a business meeting, and her first question, with a great deal of alarm, was to ask what terrible disease had beset all the dying trees in the area. It eventually dawned on me that she was referring to all the lichen festooning the dormant oaks up here. Some stands of trees are completely verdigris with them, and because it was not yet time for oak leaves to re-emerge, she was sure these harmless epiphytes were some blight upon the land. I was able to assure her that lichen is not parasitic, and that the oaks were perfectly healthy. Lichens thrive where there are few manufactured air pollutants, which was why she was so unfamiliar with them. This is a subdivision lot waiting for a home builder at the south end of town.
Dormant Oaks Jigsaw PuzzleDormant Oaks Jigsaw Puzzle

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cow with Calves near Reynolds Highway

The bright colored broadleaf trees in the upper right are madrone (Arbutus), and the finer textured understory in front of them are manzanita (Arctostaphylos). On the left side, and further up the hill is the still unleafed oak (Quercus), and the evergreen conifers look like douglas fir (Pseudotsuga). The cattle are happy to ignore these details. Reynolds Highway runs along the northeast side of Little Lake Valley.

Friday, March 28, 2008

639 in the Rain

Older homes such as this once housed loggers, mill workers, and railroaders. There are still a few of those jobs here now, but not too many. Someone told me theses houses were usually built without foundations because it was thought the town would be temporary. But Willits is still here, and so are most of the houses.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Noyo Cinemaplex in Evening Light

For such a sparsely populated area, we are lucky to have this three screen theater on East Commercial Street, in all its art deco glory. According to the early 20th century ethnographer Samuel A. Barrett, "no'yo" was the Pomo name for an encampment on the north bank of Pudding Creek, over on the coast about 30 miles from here. After the white people came, the name somehow got re-applied to a river south of Ft. Bragg, also on the coast. Although fairly far removed, it's nice to have a locally derived name on this movie house.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Davis Creek Bridge

Just catching up with some recent City Daily Photo theme days I missed. This bridge has been proudly serving a single lane of traffic since 1925. Standing at the southeast edge of Little Lake Valley, hundreds of residents in the hills beyond depend on this straight and narrow crossing to get to town.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Main Street Music

Did you hear the one about Elvis, Sasquatch, and Sir Elton shopping for Egyptian-themed jewelry in Willits on St Patrick's Day? Read about it in The Willits News! Apparently the entourage stopped in at Main Street Music as well. (I obviously remain unconvinced about the man’s identity.) This actually is a well maintained and popular music and video shop with lovely flower beds and baskets always adorning the east promenade of central Main Street.

Monday, March 24, 2008

101 Drive-In with Redwoods

Coming from a family where girls were not educated, a teen-aged Cambodian refugee was astonished to see such a thing as tall Caucasian Red Cross workers, decades ago. Today her own teenagers help after school at her 101 Drive-in, learning to run a business. She attends City Council meetings just because she enjoys them. I'd vote for her. I also recommend the ortega burger.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday

Some fellowship following the Spanish language mass at St Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Willits. This is the same church where Seabiscuit's jockey, Red Pollard, got married seventy years ago.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

North and South

Following the Civil War, many weary families ventured to California on the word of journalists like Charles Nordhoff, who touted the abundant agricultural and industrial opportunities available throughout the young state. This created neighbors out of former unionists and secessionists, but who brought their divided southern and northern churches and other political views with them. In at least one local instance, the results were deadly. However this man appears to have been a builder of bridges and unity, with his memorial plaque explaining the orientation of his final rest (unlike the other graves at Little Lake Cemetery).

Friday, March 21, 2008

Oaks and Manzanita on Muir Mill Road

Oaks and manzanitas served as food sources for the local Pomo tribes for thousands of years. These might be black oaks, but I can't be certain. One of my favorite things about the manzanita bush is the nearly wine-red, glossy skin of its branches.
ManzanitaWithOaks Jigsaw PuzzleManzanitaWithOaks Jigsaw Puzzle

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Emerging Spring, Emerging Family

A young family emerges from Burrito Exquisito, situated on the Main Street western promenade in the north part of town. This is a popular lunch stop for the tofu set. I love the woman's hand-painted jeans.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Plum Blossoms on Elm Street

The pink will give way to purple-red leaves, shading commercial storage units from the hot afternoon sun this summer.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Waiting for a Nutcracker

And the crow waits...

...for a passing car to hit his carefully positioned half broken walnut, below him...

...but I was bound to disappoint. I've seen them do this time and time again, guarding their prize from other birds at street level, eyeing the trajectory of the coming car, then flying clear in hopes of shattered nutmeat more easily eaten. There was another crow nearby, possibly learning, possibly a mate.

Miniature Horses

Smaller than Shetland Ponies, these guys were less than three feet tall at the shoulder, and were quite docile. I happened upon them on a lane south of East Hill Road, and was patiently greeted by this lovely pose and calm gaze as I situated myself at the fence. Cuter still was a miniature foal, racing around its paddock. But I'm not yet ready for action shots.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Manzanita Blossoms

Ah, well. My clock and the Blogger clock are just enough out of sync, that my pub photo counted as a double for yesterday. Something equally green is the native manzanita bush that grows in the more open inland areas of Mendocino county. Right now, they sport lovely little bell-shaped blossoms, like this one found on Muir Mill Road, just south of town.
ManzanitaFlowers Jigsaw PuzzleManzanitaFlowers Jigsaw Puzzle

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Shanachie Pub Ready for St. Pat's

Shanachie Pub is of course the gathering place for St. Patrick's Day, as well as most other days. About a year or two ago, an electrical fire caused significant damage to the pub, and associated offices and storage areas. No one was hurt, but it was a long wait for the establishment's regulars. It reopened with beautiful interior remodeling, and people have flocked back.

Bulletin Board of the Old Sort

Right on cue, this woman walked up and posted a notice on this centrally located bulletin board. On the edge of a small parking lot in the old and still popular business district, it's positioned for sidewalk passers-by to readily take a look.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Celery Root Soup at Ardella's

Food porn, Willits style. Ardella's on Main Street is famous for their from-scratch weekly soups, and usually win top awards at the annual Sip Some Soup fund raising competition, benefiting the local food bank. Today it was a glorious cream of celery root served with a touch of pesto.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Refurbished Company Store Building

Now occupied by a locally based feed and supply store called J.D. Redhouse, the new owners did a tremendous job of rehabilitating what had been an eyesore of a run down building long past it's heyday. It originally served as the Company Store of the town employer - in the days when loggers had no choice but to pay their wages back to the local logging company owners. Later it was a JC Penney, but since then it was all downhill. Even the overhead mural is new, painted over a previous fading scene of a train line.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Railroad Avenue after Overnight Rain

Plum blossom petals ring the rain puddle. This street never drains properly, and has had big pothole problems. The city recently resurfaced most of it. This is looking north near Oak Avenue.

Plum Blossoms on Alameda Avenue

One of the heralds of spring in Willits.