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In the News - Friday, March 9, 2012

 

 

Reunion committee seeks all TRUS alumni

  It’s a feat that has never before been attempted. All former students of Three Rivers Union School will be the guests of honor at the first ever TRUS Graduates Reunion.
The Reunion will be held Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, at Three Rivers Lions Arena. The gala event will consist of dinner, auction, and live music performed by TRUS alumni families.  Companion events are also being planned that will be held separately for various groups of classmates.
   It will take a village to pull off this event, so here are some easy ways for everyone to assist in this event of epic proportions:
   ALUMNI SEARCH: If you are a TRUS alumnus, a parent of former TRUS students, or know the whereabouts of any TRUS graduates, please submit their name, year graduated, and email address to: threeriversgraduates@yahoo.com. All correspondence with graduates will be via email, that is, unless they graduated in the 1940s or previously. These esteemed alumni will receive invitations via the U.S. Postal Service. Former teachers and staff, from office personnel and maintenance to bus drivers and cafeteria cooks, are also invited, so email addresses are needed for them as well.
   PHOTO SEARCH: Photographs of students, TRUS events, class photos, and Three Rivers kids being Three Rivers kids are needed. A DVD is being compiled that will be shown during the Reunion and available for sale. Scan and email photos to: epiphanyphoto@sbcglobal.net, or mail to P.O. Box 104, Three Rivers, CA 93271.
   AUCTION ITEMS: Donations for the silent and live auctions are being accepted. All proceeds from the auctions will be donated to the TRUS Foundation for the direct benefit of, where else?, Three Rivers School. To donate to the auctions, call 564-8049.
   The cost to attend the event will be $25 per person. All tickets will need to be purchased in advance; there will be no ticket sales at the event.
   Dry camping for RVs will be available at Lions Arena for a nominal charge. Blocks of rooms at local lodging facilities will also be reserved for “TRUS Graduates.”
   To reiterate, the most important task for everyone to take part in is to submit names and email addresses of any TRUS alumni. After all, the most important part of the event is to have as many TRUS graduates as possible gathered for this historic party in their honor.

How to recycle in Three Rivers

Town Hall updates include recycling,

fire grant, park road construction

  Chief Joe Garcia of the Tulare County Fire Department, announced in Three Rivers at the Monday, March 5, Town Hall meeting that his department has garnered a “Homeland Safety” grant of $878,000 to be used to replace all 231 of the self-contained breathing apparatus backpacks. In order to receive the funds, Chief Garcia said, Tulare County must provide a 20 percent match or $219,000.
  “Coming up with the matching funds should be no problem,” Chief Garcia said.
Fire personnel stationed at Three Rivers reported 14 medical aids and two major traffic accidents for the month of February.
   Supervisor Ishida, who introduced Chief Garcia, also made some brief remarks. He said that there is a meeting scheduled for March 15 with Southern California Edison and Kaweah River Drive residents who live near the “Edison Beach” swimming hole.
   Supervisor Ishida said the county is considering declaring the area a nuisance so the popular river swimming area could be closed. A waiver of the licensing requirements that stipulate that SCE provide recreational opportunities would have to be part of the closure agreement, Ishida said.
   Deb Schweizer, speaking on behalf of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, announced that the current Amphitheater Point phase of the reconstruction of the Generals Highway has been extended until August 10. The original contract called for the work to be completed prior to the start of the busy summer season.
   It’s been proposed that a project manager from the Federal Highways Administration be invited to speak at a future town meeting to explain the details of the current contract and what traffic delays might be expected during the upcoming season.
   Peter Sodhy, current president of the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce, announced that March marks the final activities in the Heroes Appreciation Months promotion. There is also a March mixer in the works with a date and time to be announced.
   New recycling mandates— The main topic for the March town meeting was a presentation by Anne Magana of the Tulare County Waste Management Authority. Magana said it is her agency’s responsibility to get Tulare County’s cities and rural areas to conform to new state guidelines that mandate each county do a better job in sorting and recycling their trash.
   Most of the progress has made to date in the county’s cities where each residential trash account gets three receptacles — one each for wet garbage, recyclables, and green waste. In order for that system of pickup of sorted materials to be cost effective there must be a density of households, Ms. Magana explained.
   In Three Rivers, where the disposal company contract is handled by Waste Connections, Inc., the three-container system is currently only being used in the Cherokee Oaks subdivision. In the other areas where residential customers are more spread out, those users are asked to sort their trash in a similar fashion but bag the garbage separately within the same container.
   Currently, Three Rivers’s trash is being transported to two locations for sorting, the bulk of which is going to Pena’s Disposal in Cutler. That facility is open to the public on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays to receive certain hazardous materials and liquids not intended for landfills like antifreeze, batteries, latex paint, oil and oil filters, fluorescent lamp glass, kitchen oils,, and electronic waste.
   Magana also said her agency is also partnering with CSET (Community Services and Employment Training) to help rural communities set up recycling centers where local schools like Three Rivers School can collect California Redemption Value (CRV) items and some e-waste items and be paid on a regular basis when CSET trucks pick up the collected materials.
  “We provide the storage container and then arrange the schedule for pickup of the materials,” said Lettie Perez, speaking on behalf of the CSET program.
   Perez has already contacted Three Rivers School and hopes an ongoing recycling program can be in place soon.
  “The students learn about recycling and get involved with the community to collect and sort the materials,” Perez said. “They can earn money for school programs and the community can do a better job recycling; it’s a win-win.”
   Hazard waste collection days will still be conducted annually but more ongoing programs are needed.
  “In Tulare County we are just getting started and it’s still a learning process of where to take what,” Magana said. “What we are finding is that nearly all trash can be recycled. GreenAmerica.org can put you in touch with companies that recycle everything from shoes to non-compostable plastics to all types of techno-trash.”
   For more information about how to become a more effective recycler call Anne Magana at the Visalia office of the Consolidated Waste Management Authority: 713-6291.
   Town Hall meetings are sponsored and conducted by the Three Rivers Village Foundation on the first Monday of each month at the Memorial Building. Got a pressing topic or agenda item? Call Lee Goldstein, 561-3204.
   Next Town Hall meeting: April 2.

March snow at 31 percent statewide

  Although there is still hope for additional snow in March and April, state water officials are bracing for another dry year similar to what California experienced in 2007. Farmers who regularly use allocated water from Sierra runoff have been notified to expect approximately 50 percent of their requested allotments.
   That figure could be adjusted up or down depending on what happens in the next 60 days. Last year, these same farmers received 80 percent of their allotments.
   From north, central, and south California— March 1 snow pack stats are indicating that a dry water year is on tap for California. How dry will be known more precisely after the April 1 numbers have been officially recorded.
   April 1 is the benchmark that water experts to use to forecast how much and where water levels will be for the state’s system of reservoirs. If there is a chance of a monster snowstorm in any given year, the odds for that type of event become less with each passing day after April 1.
   North reporting stations (Trinity to Truckee) contain a water content of 10 inches with snow depths at 38 percent of normal for March 1; that translates to 35 percent of the normal April 1 numbers.
   Central reporting stations (Tahoe to Merced) contain a water content of nine inches with snow depths at 32 percent of normal for March 1 and 29 percent for the April 1 norm.
   South reporting stations (San Joaquin to Kern and including the Kaweah drainage) contain a water content of nine inches with snow depths averaging 34 percent of the March 1 norm and 29 percent of the April 1 norm.
   (The Kaweah drainage recorded a whopping 130 percent of the April 1 norm in 2011.)
   What do those 2012 stats mean for Kaweah Country and the Tulare County region?   According to information presented by Supervisor Allen Ishida at the March 5 town meeting, farmers on the east side who, like his family, are orange growers, won’t need as much water this year because large parcels have recently been replanted and now have smaller trees.
   But these growers and all Tulare County farmers, because of the lack of rainfall, are already irrigating and that means more groundwater will be needed to remain sustainable, Ishida said.  One local farmer reported that typically Valley groundwater was expected to improve as a result of last year’s wet season, but only recharged approximately two feet.
   Another casualty will be the local whitewater rafting season. Usually, the river, and in turn the town, can attract lots of kayakers and rafters from April to June. It’s doubtful whether any of the companies that are licensed to operate on the Kaweah River will be booking more than a weekend or two at this point.
   National Park Service fire crews are already planning for a worst-case scenario.
  “If we get less precipitation there won’t be as much brush but the tinder-dry forest means we have to plan for catastrophic wildfire,” said Deb Schweizer, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks fire education specialist.
   Deb said the national parks can apply for alternative funding relative to a number of fire programs and they are already looking into what’s out there.
   Currently, there is two feet of snow on the ground in places like Lodgepole and the Mineral King valley in Sequoia National Park. That’s a far cry from the six to eight feet of snow in these same places one year ago.

Warm winter on record nationwide

  When Kaweah Country has a dry year like the present one it really is not that unusual. In fact every three to five years in the last century it seems we experience a dry one or two... or more.
   Locally, we tend to look at these years as not having much weather whatsoever; the monster storms and huge snowfalls of the El Nino years are the news-makers.
   But this year it’s the non-existent winter that is setting records and making national news.  Forecasters consider the lack of snowpack in the western mountains as a key factor in the recent rash of early-season and deadly tornadoes in the nation’s Midwest.
   This is the fourth warmest winter on record in the contiguous United States since statistics on national temperatures have been kept (1890). In fact, all of the seven warmest years in over 100 years of climate data have occurred since 1992, and over the past three decades, a warmer-than-average winter has been twice as likely as a cool one. The risk of warm winters is increasing over time.
   In January, New Mexico was the only state in the lower 48 that experienced below average temperatures. Snow-cover this winter is the third smallest since satellites have had a photographic eye in the sky for the past 46 years.
   Want to hit the slopes? This winter, head for the Colorado Rocky Mountain high territory, which has consistently had the best snow and chilliest temperatures.

Photo caption:

Cart Wheels

A load of new golf carts was delivered this week, a sign that the Three Rivers Golf Course could reopen as scheduled on April 1. The scenic nine-hole course has been closed for the winter season since November 1.

Bighorn sheep to be

reintroduced to Great Western Divide region

  It looks as though after more than a decade of study, plans are in place to reintroduce the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep to the Great Western Divide, an area they have not inhabited in over a century. Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep are large animals that inhabit the east side and crest of the southern and central Sierra Nevada.
   Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep are considered one of North America’s most endangered animals and have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1999 when only about 125 bighorn sheep remained in the Sierra Nevada, living in five separate areas on mountainous, federally-owned land primarily in California’s Inyo and Mono counties. But even though their habitat is primarily on federal land and is relatively undisturbed, their distribution has been greatly reduced and fragmented over the past 150 years, which leaves the sheep more vulnerable to extinction.
   The Recovery Plan for Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep identifies 16 historic herd units and groups those herd units into four recovery units. The smallest recovery unit on the Great Western Divide near Mineral King has only two herd units. Criteria for downlisting (to threatened) and delisting (removal from the list of threatened and endangered species) specify 12 herd units that need to be occupied, as well as minimum numbers of females by recovery unit, which total 305.
   According to the “Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Environmental Assessment: Research and Recovery Actions,” dated June 2011, insufficient information is available for informing Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks managers of the impacts that both recreational activities (e.g., backpacking, hiking, and mountaineering) and packstock may have on bighorn sheep. Credible, scientific data is needed to ensure that bighorn sheep and critical habitat is protected while at the same time minimizing unnecessary restrictions on wilderness recreation.
   In the 19th century, the bighorn sheep’s range was much larger. They inhabited an extensive region that spanned from Sonora Pass south of Lake Tahoe to Olancha Peak north of Kernville. Evidence suggests that the grand animal’s range once extended west into the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park.
   These awe-inspiring inhabitants of the highest reaches of the Sierra are sure-footed and agile creatures with specialized hooves that enable them to easily negotiate steep, rocky terrain. The sheep breed in the fall, and the ewes give birth to one lamb in the spring or early summer.
   Diseases spread by domestic sheep beginning in the 1860s coupled with indiscriminate hunting during that time period and possible predation by mountain lions in recent decades are considered the primary reasons for the decline of the bighorn sheep. From February through April, the sheep may be more vulnerable to predators when they attempt to move to lower elevations to forage on new, nutritious plant growth and avoid harsh winter conditions at higher elevations before lambs are born.
   During the 1980s bighorn sheep began remaining at higher elevations throughout the winter. This behavior led to greater risk of mortality due to exposure, avalanches, and an inadequate food supply, and was followed by a steep population decline. Some believe that when the bighorn sheep herd size gets small, they will remain at higher elevations to avoid predation by mountain lions.

Local scientist publishes book on wildfire benefits

  We may tend to view fires as the bane of cities and wilderness areas, but those who study fire say they actually play an integral part in the evolution and ecology of the world’s “Mediterranean-type climate” regions — dry, temperate coastlands that cradle and nurture world cities such as Los Angeles, Santiago, Cape Town, Perth, and Athens.
   Exploring the impact of fire on Mediterranean-type ecosystems and plant communities is the focus of a new book, Fire in Mediterranean Ecosystems, published in January by Cambridge University Press. The book’s host of international authors is led by fire ecologist Jon Keeley of Three Rivers, who works for the U.S. Geological Survey in Sequoia National Park.
  “Understanding the relationship between wildland fire and healthy ecosystems is an essential ingredient in being able to effectively manage wilderness areas,” said USGS director Marcia McNutt. “Similarly, understanding what steps communities and homeowners can take to provide a safety buffer from these frequent fires should be the responsibility of all those who live in these very desirable regions.”
   The book provides new perspective on the global importance of fire and a unique view of how fire has shaped Earth’s ecosystems. The five Mediterranean-climate regions of the world provide a framework for understanding a diversity of fire regimes and how those regimes have affected the evolution of plant traits and plant communities.
  “We are providing in-depth reviews of the role fire plays in each of the geographically separate regions, like Chile and southern California,” explained Jon, who is also an adjunct professor at University of California-Los Angeles. “These form the basis for a synthesis of how fire has shaped these environments.”
   Binding these Mediterranean-climate regions together is the pattern of mild, wet winters alternating with hot, dry summers, Jon said. Such conditions lead to dense fuels — comprising of highly flammable plant leaves and twigs — that are conducive to severe wildfires on an annual basis.
   Subtle differences in climates and geology of each region provide a framework for understanding how diverse fire environments shaped the evolution of plants and plant community assemblages. The authors also challenge the belief that climate and soils alone can explain the convergent characteristics of these ecosystems.
   No less important is the discussion of humans, who have long been attracted to Mediterranean climate regions, but have not always successfully adapted to these fire-prone landscapes.
  “Urban populations have been highly vulnerable to wildfires in some Mediterranean-type climate regions, with differences in vulnerability between regions being due largely to innate differences in fuel loads of indigenous vegetation types and profound differences in population density,” said Keeley. “This book explores how innate differences in vegetation and patterns of human development have molded fire management responses.”
   The book is available on Amazon.com.

Wolf OR7 returns to Oregon

  After drawing much public attention for his historic trek into California, the gray wolf designated as OR7 has turned north and crossed back into Oregon (See “Wolf enters California,” The Kaweah Commonwealth, January 6, 2012). The endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep (see story above) are ecstatic about this recent development.
   Originally part of a wolf pack in northeastern Oregon, OR7 wandered more than 1,062 miles in Oregon in September through December of last year before crossing into California last December 28. Gray wolves were extirpated in California in the 1920s, leading to speculation that OR7 might be the first wolf to reestablish roots in the Golden State.
   While in California, the wolf trekked south through eastern Siskiyou County, traveled through northeastern Shasta County and then resided in Lassen County for a few weeks. On February 11, he re-entered Shasta County and then, about a week later, he crossed north into Siskiyou County. The state Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has continued to monitor his whereabouts through the use of a satellite tracking collar and has been updating his status on a website at www.dfg.ca.gov/wolf/.
   DFG biologists who have been closely monitoring the wolf’s position and progress say they have been impressed with his ability to travel considerable distances into new territory and then return, following a different route, to locations he has previously visited (possibly through his use of scent-marking), sometimes after a few weeks have passed.
   Over the past two months, DFG has received many telephone calls and e-mails reporting sightings of OR7, but nearly all of these reports were inconsistent with the satellite location data. Photographs and physical descriptions provided to DFG by the public were consistently determined to be an animal other than a wolf (usually a coyote in winter pelt). In some cases, the available information was insufficient to make any confident determination of the species observed. However, in the past few days OR7 may have been observed in northern Siskiyou County.
   In at least one instance, private citizens photographed tracks likely to have been made by OR7. Some of those photographs are available for viewing on DFG’s website.
   After traveling 900 miles in California (calculated as air miles, not the actual distance traveled, which was greater), OR7 crossed the state line from Siskiyou County and back into  Oregon on March 1. DFG biologists have described his behavior as dispersal, where a young wolf seeks to find a mate or another wolf pack. That search has not been resolved for OR7 in California and his next movements cannot be predicted with any certainty. It remains possible he will return to California in the future.

Birds of prey land at Woman’s Club meeting

By Linda DeLisio

  Here is just some of what I learned during a presentation by Louise Culver of the Critter Creek Wildlife Station in Squaw Valley (Fresno County). She dazzled audience members with her knowledge of birds, and the birds themselves, at the February meeting of the Three Rivers Woman’s Club.
   Birds of prey can have one of two types of flight feathers. The birds that hunt at night have flight feathers with a frayed edge. When they flap their wings the air moves but the wing is almost silent.
   Birds that hunt during the day have flight feathers that can be called “razor sharp.” When their wings flap you can hear that distinctive whap, whap, whap sound. With birds of prey, the female is always bigger.
   The most common hawk in the Central Valley is the red-tailed hawk. They grow their red feathers at four or five years of age. They can see a squirrel from two miles in the air and have a football-like shape that aids them when diving through the air at 80 miles an hour to attack.
   When they reach their prey the impact is what kills. That impact with birds of prey causes the tendons in their talon’s bony palm to snap closed on the prey and up and off they go. It is the beak that tears up the small animal.
   A peregrine falcon is the fastest bird and can fly up to 200 miles an hour. Their nose has a bone that acts like a valve stem and helps to equalize the pressure they experience when flying at such high speeds. They hunt birds and can swoop up their prey in mid-air. Falcons pluck their prey’s feathers before eating them.
   The American kestrel falcon is commonly called the sparrow hawk, but it is not a hawk. The use of DDT killed off many of our falcons in the 1950s and 1960s.
   The barn owl is the most common owl in the Central Valley. They can birth up to seven babies in a clutch. With so many mouths to feed they will hunt up to 12 gophers a night to satisfy their hungry babies.
   A screech owl looks like a small great-horned owl. The great-horned owl’s “horns” are actually contour feathers standing up like horns. Owls eat all of their prey, leaving no waste at all.
   What their body can’t use in the process of digestion is balled up into a small, egg-shaped pellet and spit out. Have you ever found one of these pellets and wondered what it was? The owl simply and neatly devours all of their prey so they don’t soil and matt together the tiny filo plumes that keep their ankles and face warm against the cold night air. These tiny furry feathers need to be fluffy so they fight off the cold and keep the owl warm as they fly in the bitter night air. Day hunters don’t need to be so neat and tidy as they nest at night in a protected place.
   Critter Creek Wildlife Station is a nonprofit rehabilitation center that offers tips for living with wildlife and offers information on animals for education. They take in wounded birds and mammals hoping to give them a sanctuary to live out their lives. Here they can heal themselves and remain wild by minimal handling; Critter Creek will release them back into the wild if and when they are ready.
   If the injury requires personal handling to nurse them back to life the birds and mammals become used to human encounter. They then become a candidate for the educational programs offered to schools and other groups like us that enjoy experiencing these critters up close and personal.
   Each month the Three Rivers Woman’s Club provides a program that entertains and educates. Three Rivers Woman’s Club membership is open to all women of the community. For membership information, call Bev at 561-3601.
   Linda DeLisio is the 2011-2012 publicity chairperson for the Three Rivers Woman’s Club.

Annual count reveals winter bird residents

  Anyone who has spent much time in Three Rivers or Sequoia already knows that the bird life is a spectacular sight to see. One group made it their day’s goal to see, and document, as many birds as possible.
   Early on the morning of December 17, 2011, a clear day in Sequoia National Park, 16 volunteers gathered at the Foothills Visitor Center with a mission to count as many birds as possible in one day.
   This annual gathering of bird enthusiasts participated in the longest-running citizen science project in the United States, the Christmas Bird Count. The Christmas Bird Count began Christmas Day 1900 with 27 birders counting in 25 locations from Toronto, Canada, to Pacific Grove, California.
   The count now happens internationally. In Sequoia National Park the count has been taking place since 2000.
   The CBC is a sort of 24-hour race to count as many birds and bird species in a predefined area as possible. Why count in the winter when bird numbers are lower? Ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, considered the founder of the count, wanted to change the emphasis of a tradition of shooting as many birds on Christmas day, known as the “Side Hunt,” to counting as many birds as possible.
   His idea wasn’t entirely original. He was among many who noticed that many bird species were in steep decline. This was the first effort to gather national information on bird numbers via a “Christmas Bird Census.”
   These days, all who can point to a bird, listen, or use their birding expertise are invited to help count. Why such a varied level of knowledge? Why not just use expert birders?
   The answer lies in the numbers: the more eyes and ears watching and listening for birds, the more counted for the record. All participants were placed in a group headed by an expert leader, who was in charge of a specific area.
   Groups explored areas from Giant Forest and Lodgepole to Oriole Lake, the Colony Mill Road, Shepherd Saddle, etc. That evening, the participants came back together for a celebratory dinner where they talked about their day and presented their numbers. In all, 16 birders from Three Rivers and as far away as San Francisco counted 2,283 birds and 64 species.
   See the March 9, 2012, print edition of The Kaweah Commonwealth for the 2011count of Sequoia birds.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Food adventures in the Caribbean

By Allison Millner

PART ONE: ARUBA
   As some of you may or may not know, Dane and I spent two weeks this past January traveling around the southern and eastern Caribbean. We visited eight different islands, tasting, experiencing, and sampling the food, drink, and culture.
   Each island, while similar in nature, had its differences that created the innate uniqueness of the island. While we didn’t have long to savor the local flavor, we were able to glean an idea as to what each island had to offer.
   Our trip started in Miami with a night in a very overpriced hotel in South Beach, then we set sail on New Year’s Eve. The clouds were wispy, the sun setting, skies blue, and the ocean bluer as we made our way southward.
   We had two days at sea before we reached land; just enough time to recover from our New Year’s celebrations. Our first port of call was Oranjestad, Aruba.
The only thing I knew about Aruba was that it was somewhere the Beach Boys wanted to go. I’ve listened to them sing the praises of this dry, desert island, but didn’t really know much about it.
   Turns out, Aruba receives no more than 19 inches of rain per year and is not the tropical, palm tree haven you might imagine. Covered in low-lying trees and cacti, this small landmass is a flat, arid island that seems to have little to offer but white sand beaches.
   But we are adventurous and set out undaunted; eager to find that hidden gem, that place off the beaten path, that great local eatery that will fulfill our Magellanesque needs.
   We started with an exploration of Oranjestad, circling the town in about 45 minutes. It is a small port town, built up for the cruise ships and tourism; you won’t find museums but if you’re running short on makeup there is a MAC Cosmetics store.
   Back at the cruise dock we formulate a plan. I have a map and try to remember all of the things I saw offered on the ship’s tours. We find our places of interest, decide on a route, and pay a taxi driver for a four-hour tour of the island. Away we go!
   We visit Casibari Rock, a large and somewhat odd rock formation sitting in the middle of the island, famous because it towers over the otherwise flat landscape and you can climb to the top (beautiful, but if you’ve climbed Moro Rock, you’re not really too impressed).
   Next comes a trip out to the famous land bridge, Aruba’s number-one tourist destination. When we get there, our taxi driver informs us that Mother Nature collapsed the land bridge some months ago, so we stand for a few moments and look at a large pile of rocks.
Large rock and land bridge, check. Now we’ve got the oldest church on the island, from the 1800s, left to see.
   For most of us, the phrase “old church” brings up images of Gothic architecture, columns and amazing frescos. Having traveled in Spain and Italy, Dane and I imagine spacious halls, huge domes and the scent of incense in the air.
   What we pulled up to was a one-room structure, painted colorfully with an A-line roof. Hmm, things are different down here; we may need to adjust our expectations.
   Back in the cab we decide it’s lunchtime and probe our driver for some culinary enlightenment. Turns out, the best place for local cuisine opens at 4 p.m. and since that won’t work we ask for another recommendation.
    There is a lighthouse at the northern end of the island that has a restaurant. Our driver tells us that the cuisine is not necessarily local food, but it’s good and has a great view; we’ve heard vaguely about it and decide to go.
   To be completely honest, there comes a point in my day when a little bit of my culinary fervor for the new and undiscovered dies. I’m hot, tired, and somewhat unimpressed, and a cold beer and plate of familiar wins out over the search for the best iguana stew. And so, with Columbus laughing in the background, we settle for the lighthouse restaurant, which turns out to serve Italian.
   I know, I know, it’s pathetic. I’m in Aruba eating Italian food.
   I paid $12 for a salad that had three ingredients: Arugula, vinegar and oil. I won’t even tell you about the caprese salad and the pizza that were ordered.
   Turns out that the highlight of the meal was a delicious fish stew that Dane devoured. For the same price as my salad, he got a large bowl of steaming mussels, fish, clams, and shrimp in a deliciously seasoned broth. Full of paprika and saffron, his broth was decidedly the tastiest thing at the table. Not a total loss, but close.
   We all agreed that the only thing to do after such a painful lunch was to visit the beach voted “third most beautiful in the world.” So with our wallets emptied and our appetites appeased but not content, we set off to sun ourselves in the afternoon glow of the Aruba sun.
   The sand was white, the water turquoise and warm, and we determined that sometimes a day on the beach is enough. The Beach Boys can have Aruba.
   When not island-hopping, Allison and her husband, Dane, operate Sierra Subs and Salads in Three Rivers.

HEALING WITH THE HANDS

The art of receiving: A lesson to be learned

By Charlene Vartanian

  Life is nice. It is especially nice on the day of a bodywork session.
As a bodywork practitioner, this has a double meaning: giving a bodywork session truly is always a good day.
   However, being on the receiving end of a bodywork treatment has its own teachings. It is a lesson in the workings of the human body, and by extension the human being.
   Lessons learned: the body has to learn to receive. Receiving doesn’t always come naturally, but receiving does build on itself.
   What does this mean? The first bodywork session actually prepares you to receive the next one better.
   A rule of thumb is to allow three to four sessions to allow your body the opportunity to integrate the treatment.
   As the body comes to understand what is being asked of it — to relax and receive — the body recognizes the cues and cooperates without effort. The natural mechanisms of the body take precedent: the breath deepens, the mind calms, the blood circulates. Life flows.
   The purpose of getting bodywork? So that we can function better as human beings.
When our body gets overloaded, our ability to move through our lives with ease and freedom declines drastically. Bodywork can teach our body how to receive. And it facilitates the release of what we don’t need to hang onto any longer.
   Our bodies are magnets for stress. This is why we must manage our lives to respect our limitations.
   The mechanism of stress is just that; a way to hold onto the pressures we are experiencing. When we learn how to receive through gentleness, we teach our body how to facilitate the release of stress automatically.
   It is simple, joyful, and joy-filled for the giver and the receiver.
   Charlene Vartanian, R.N., has offered CranioSacral massage and bodywork in Three Rivers for 10 years. Visit www.charlenevartanian.com or call 561-4215.

 
THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
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