Rainbow from Vance Avenue pullout

I reached to wipe off the stovetop this morning forgetting I’d just heated the kettle meaning the grate would, of course, be scorching. Hopefully, my fingers won’t blister. Luckily, I can still type well enough to share two small, personal, cheerful stories from the past week.

Begonia, full circle

On Thursday, a friend posted to Facebook that she had a plant to give away. A “big, gangly” begonia that stretched up the corner walls. Until this past year, I had a “No plants!” moratorium in my house – after three kids, two cats and a dog, I’ve not wanted more living things to care for. Also, I was traveling a lot and Bobby’s busy enough with the garden. But then my son Nick gave me some cute polka-dot felt plant pot covers, which meant I had to purchase some plants to put in them. Which I did. And they’re doing well enough with minimal care that I’d been thinking maybe a big plant in the corner would be nice. 

This led me to comment on her post, “I’ll take it!” 

The collection grows.

She responded that I could have it and also, “lol… I think I may have gotten it from you years ago?! It was much smaller then.” My memory being what it is (a sieve), I looked in my old FB messages and there it was, a 2017 exchange between the two of us arranging for me to drop the plant off at her former house in Arcata. “Glad I could plant sit for five years!” she joked. 

The begonia now sits back in the corner of our great room, leaves gangling up the wall and looking right at home.

The easiest project I ever helped happen

It went like this: A couple years ago, I joined the Peninsula Community Collaborative, a group consisting of neighbors residing on the Samoa Peninsula and supported by a grant to the Redwood Coast Action Agency with the intent to make the spit a safer, more beautiful place. More good stuff happened in those two years than I’d seen in the 18 before. One area of concern was the Vance Avenue pull-out, a patch of asphalt between Hwy. 255 and Humboldt Bay where people constantly dumped trash and broke-down cars. It’s also a fantastic place to catch the sunrise. I offered to talk to the county to see what could be done.

March 11, 2021: I emailed Humboldt County Supervisor Mike Wilson asking to discuss the problem. 

April 5, 2021: We met at the site, along with Tom Mattson from Public Works, and talked about possible solutions, including making the site into something nice, a place people could watch birds from, take a breather while on a bike ride around the bay. I suggested designated parking to create a sense of order and wondered what kind of restoration could be done.

April 8, 2021: Carla, one of our awesome RCAA facilitators, followed up with an email noting that the property belonged to Caltrans and asking for the agency’s help. Within 24 hours, Caltrans’ Deputy 1 District Director Tom Fitzgerald responded that he was on it.

Jan. 6: Supervisor Wilson forwarded me an email from Tom F. that Caltrans was indeed moving ahead with a beautification project.

April 5: I received an email invite from Caltrans to speak at the groundbreaking that would be taking place next week – an invite I readily agreed to, also emphasizing that this effort was a result of the PCC’s work. 

Thursday, April 14: I bundled up against the north wind, biked the three-quarters of a mile over to Vance and joined the mini-press conference happening there. What is currently a much-abused slab of pavement will be transformed into a parklet! This will include removing some of the asphalt – Caltrans removing asphalt?!?! Yes! – and replacing it with native plants, plus adding picnic tables, benches, a bike rack and striped parking. The work should be completed by summer.