In the News - Friday,
September 18, 2009
stories written by John or
Elliott unless otherwise noted
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
in Sequoia smoldering
The Horse Fire, located in the Horse
Creek drainage above Hockett Meadow, continues its
slow burn through steep terrain with scattered trees
at 9,100 feet near the southern boundary of Sequoia
National Park. The fire was discovered July 19 just
below Ansel Lake and has now charred 330 acres.
Monitors describe the fire’s behavior
as a smoldering, creeping ground fire with some isolated
torching. The two personnel assigned to the Horse
Fire have hiked in for multi-day duty and have been
resupplied by pack stock as stipulated by the provisions
of the Wilderness Act.
Another smaller blaze, dubbed the Mehrten
Fire, was discovered August 21 and is reported to
be only a couple of acres in size. It was started
by a lightning strike and is located in the Middle
Fork of the Kaweah River south of Alta Peak.
Fires in the Middle Fork have caused
severe smoke impacts in the past so this blaze, burning
in mixed conifers at 7,800 feet, was contained. It
will be continuously monitored in case of any flare-ups.
There are no trail closures in effect
due to either of these fires though hikers may notice
smoke if on the High Sierra Trail or in the Hockett
Meadow vicinity. Motorists on the Mineral King Road
have reported that smoke from the Horse Fire is also
visible from viewpoints along the road below Silver
Earlier this week, all trails in the
vicinity of the 52-acre Crescent Meadow Prescribed
Fire were reopened. Ignitions were completed August
4 and since that time, fire activity has diminished
significantly, the Park Service reports.
Hikers in the area of Crescent and Log
meadows are asked to remain on the established trails
and not to enter burned areas for their own safety.
Some hot spots still exist and are visible from these
Marijuana measure seeks support
Coming to malls and public gathering
places all across California will be a small army
of petitioners who just might be asking for your signature
on a petition to legalize marijuana. Last week, Secretary
of State Debra Bowen made the announcement that proponents
— attorneys Joe Rogoway, Omar Figueroa and James
J. Clark — may begin officially collecting petitions
for the measure.
Here’s how the initiative process
works. The Attorney General prepares the legal title
and summary that is required to appear on initiative
petitions. When the official language is complete,
the petition is forwarded to the proponents and Secretary
The Secretary of State then provides
a calendar deadline to county elections officials
and the initiative may be circulated for signatures.
In this case, the proponents are already predicting
their efforts will be completed easily ahead of schedule
and allow the initiative to appear on a 2010 ballot.
The proponents for this measure must
collect signatures of 433,971 registered voters —
the number equal to five percent of the total votes
cast for governor in the 2006 gubernatorial election
— in order to qualify for the ballot. The proponents
have 150 days to circulate petitions for this measure,
meaning the signatures must be collected by February
The Attorney General’s official
title and summary for the measure is written as follows:
Changes California Law to Legalize, Regulate,
and Tax Marijuana. Initiative Statute. Repeals state
laws that make it a crime for people 21 years or older
to use, possess, sell, cultivate, or transport marijuana
or industrial hemp, except laws that make it a crime
to drive while impaired or to contribute to the delinquency
of a minor. Expunges state convictions based on the
repealed marijuana-related laws. Requires state and
local governments to regulate and tax commercial production
and sale of marijuana. Requires taxes to be spent
on education, healthcare, environmental programs,
public works and state parks. Summary of fiscal impact:
savings in the tens of millions of dollars annually
in the incarcerating and supervising of marijuana
offenders. Unknown but potentially major new excise,
income, and sales tax revenues related to the production
and sale of marijuana products.
Some analysts are predicting that legalization
could generate more than a $1 billion annually for
the revenue-starved coffers of the state treasury.
But if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
In other words, like any controversial initiative,
there is bound to be a fight.
Proponents say that marijuana’s
social use is not unlike alcohol but is safer to use
and has proven health and medical uses. Opponents
claim it is just another drug and legalization will
lead to more drug use by a population that already
uses too many drugs.
In Tulare County, legalization could
eventually mean that powerful drug cartels that cultivate
marijuana and wantonly desecrate public lands —
including Sequoia National Park — might be forced
out of the illegal business. This season, at least
one major wildland fire near Santa Maria was started
by illegal growers on public lands and the cost of
fighting that blaze cost taxpayers several million
In the throes of an unprecedented budget
crisis, California might not be able to afford to
just say no. As California goes, where more than 10
percent of the nation’s population lives and
nearly 50 percent of its capital is still being ventured,
so goes the rest of the country.
Not to be overlooked are new enforcement
problems if the statute becomes law. Currently, one
of the largest groups of users is under the age of
21 and their use would still be against the law.
A prominent Tulare County marijuana attorney
claims to have had all his marijuana cases dismissed
where a DUI is involved because law enforcement has
no effective method to prove that an impaired driver
was stoned on pot.
Like all initiatives, this one will be
subject to court challenges. But who can dispute the
intriguing business potential and job creation that
one day might be the outcome of such a measure?
DNC honored for environmental
The National Park Service recently presented
its 2009 Environmental Achievement Awards to three
parks and three concessioners, including Delaware
North Companies Parks and Resorts (DNC), that incorporate
environmentally friendly practices into their operations.
Acting director of the National Park Service Daniel
Wenk praised this year’s winners for “setting
an example by protecting not only NPS sites but also
the land and environment beyond their borders.”
In 2008, DNC trademarked its GreenPath
Environmental Management System that is in place at
Sequoia, Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon national
parks. GreenPath includes the development and implementation
of comprehensive recycling programs at each park,
ultimately diverting thousands of tons from the solid
waste stream, reducing energy consumption, and devising
new and more efficient ways of operating.
DNC is committed to preventing pollution
in the areas where they do business and to continually
improving the company’s environmental performance.
DNC strives to incorporate environmental considerations
into business decisions, including planning and design;
review activities, products, and services to limit
environmental impact; set targets to improve environmental
performance; reduce the generation and disposal of
waste; and more.
Other 2009 winners are: Denali National
Park and Preserve, Mojave National Preserve, Zion
National Park, Xanterra Parks & Resorts (Yellowstone),
and Xanterra South Rim (Grand Canyon).
Linda Warner receives Educator
of the Year honors
Linda Warner would be just as content
to continue doing what she loves most — working
with children — quietly and behind the scenes.
During her adult life, Linda has touched
thousands of children’s lives, as a YMCA director,
swim instructor, recreation director, school bus driver,
teacher’s aide, preschool teacher, ambulance
volunteer and, ultimately, teacher.
Well, the word has leaked out about Linda’s
dedication to the children of Three Rivers. And she
will be receiving her just reward.
She currently is the third/fourth-grade
teacher at Three Rivers School and has been a fixture
on the campus in one capacity or another on and off
since 1976. She is most definitely deserving of the
honor that will be bestowed upon her next week.
On Thursday, Sept. 24, at the 16th annual
Confucius’ Birthday/Educators of the Year Celebration,
Linda will be one of three teachers honored with this
The ceremony — sponsored by the
Central California Chinese Cultural Center in Visalia
and the Tulare County Office of Education —
continues the long tradition of celebrating the careers
of educators on the birthday of China’s great
philosopher and advocate for universal education,
Linda is this year’s elementary
school Teacher of the Year. Middle school Teacher
of the Year is Dean Miller, a science teacher at Palo
Verde Union School in Tulare; Nancy Wills, a music
teacher at Lindsay High, is the high school Teacher
of the Year.
Linda and her husband Tom moved to Three
Rivers in 1976, which is when she first started working
for the school district as a substitute teacher. This
soon transitioned into positions as a bus driver and
After a three year hiatus to give birth
to her two sons — Jed and Isaac — she
went back to work as a preschool teacher in Three
Rivers. She also worked in the summer months giving
swimming lessons to local children.
In 1985, Linda was back at Three Rivers
School as a teacher’s aide.
“She also was a bus driver, did yard duty, handled
the Movement Education classes for grades one through
three, worked as grounds and maintenance, and volunteered
as an EMT with the Three Rivers Ambulance,”
said Sue Sherwood, superintendent of Three Rivers
School and a longtime friend of Linda’s.
In 1995, Linda returned to school to
get her teaching credential. By 1999, she filled the
gap when a TRUS teacher left unexpectedly midyear
and was hired as the third-grade teacher the next
Now entering her second decade as a TRUS
teacher and with the recent retirements of some longtime
teachers — Melinda Simonian, Suzanne Rich, Gail
Matuskey — Linda has been teaching at TRUS the
longest of all the permanent teaching staff. With
her calm demeanor and kind disposition, she sets a
perfect example for her students and, with her seniority,
proves a prime mentor for future Educators of the
“She is a champion for children in every
sense of the word,” said Sue. “She is
one of those people who was destined to be a teacher.
She is very deserving of this honor, and I am proud
to be able to share this moment with her.”
Event information: 733-6302
Annual dinner supports Three
By Susan Sherwood
The annual Three Rivers Union School
Foundation dinner is right around the corner. We hope
to see you there!
On Sunday, Oct. 4, you will have the
opportunity to see old friends and meet new ones.
The evening includes a delicious dinner prepared by
Felix Gonzalez, flamenco-style music provided by our
local Faena Brava, plus the opportunity to win prizes,
bid in the silent auction, and more.
But hurry! It’s coming up fast,
and we must know you are coming so we can prepare.
Over the past year, the TRUS Foundation
has dedicated its funds to the refurbishing of the
school’s upper field:
—Two new sets of bleachers were purchased.
—The basketball and tennis courts were
—Dirt was brought in to augment the baseball
field and fill the gopher holes in the outfield (of
course, taking care of the gopher holes is a never-ending
—The field was dedicated in May to Maile
J. Peck, who was a beloved member of the Three Rivers
School community for many years. She attended nearly
every game at the school and especially loved men’s
We still have some work to do on the
dugouts and will continue to work on keeping the field
as green and groomed as we can. Water is always an
issue, even with the additional tank that has been
Both the community and the school use
this field practically every day, 365 days a year.
Students use it for everything from recess to soccer,
football, track and baseball.
When school is not in session the upper
field really gets a workout. It is the only grassy
space in Three Rivers for events such as dog training,
Frisbee, the annual Fall Carnival, and recreational
sports for all ages.
The TRUS Foundation Board works hard
to organize this annual fundraiser. Tickets are $50
for a single plate; $75 for a double.
Complimentary wine and beer will be served
and it is a great way to spend a beautiful fall evening.
All donations benefit the students, programs,
and facilities at Three Rivers School.
We are currently looking for donations
for our silent and live auctions as well as door prizes.
If you would like to donate, please contact Lee Crouch
at 561-3363, Sue Sherwood at Three Rivers School,
or any Foundation member. Tickets to the event are
on sale in the school office or from Foundation members.
Please support your local school and community.
Sue Sherwood is the
superintendent of Three Rivers School.
Abe Burdick: A man who beat
By Sophie Britten
Abraham (“Abe”) Burdick,
an early Three Rivers settler, has gone down in local
history as a legendary figure. A goldsmith by trade
in New York City, he was born August 31, 1838, in
Legend has it that when his health began to fail,
he moved to San Francisco, leaving his wife and daughter,
who chose to stay behind in New York City.
Arriving in San Francisco, he opened
a jewelry store but bad luck was on his trail; that
very same night the store burned to the ground! As
he was standing in the street despondently contemplating
the ruin of his hopes and business, a man approached
him asking if he needed employment. When he indicated
that this was so, he was hired on the spot to cook
for a crew that was to build what the Kaweah Colonists
called the Giant Forest Railroad, a project that was
doomed to failure since the Colonists opted instead
for a wagon road to access the giant sequoias.
Again out of work, Burdick was finally
diagnosed with what was then called consumption —
or tuberculosis as we now know it. His doctor told
him that he had just a few weeks to live.
By then, his wealth purportedly consisted
of $1.75 and with this he bought a sack of beans and
a slab of sowbelly (bacon). He journeyed up to Yucca
Creek on the North Fork (called East Branch by the
Colonists) and camped under a sloping rock, ostensibly
to await his fate.
However, he did not succumb to his fatal
illness; in fact, he lived under the rock for two
years at which point he moved farther up the creek
and built himself a cabin of hand-hewn alders he had
carried up from the creek. Eventually, he developed
a small ranch with an apple orchard and some livestock.
Vowing that sleeping outdoors had saved
his life, Burdick continued his habit of sleeping
outside in a lean-to shelter for many years. During
his lifetime, the Park Service tried many times to
obtain his property but according to Colonel John
White, then superintendent of Sequoia National Park,
he refused to sell.
Abe had a most famous (or infamous) cat
that he named “Jesus.” Harry Britten,
who was a park ranger at the time, told the story
of the day that he had ridden his horse down the Colony
Mill Road on his patrol and as was his custom, stopped
at Burdick’s ranch to have breakfast.
As he was riding through the apple orchard,
he spotted what he called a “lynx cat”
or wildcat. He pulled out his service revolver and
shot the cat, thinking to protect Mr. Burdick’s
He carried the cat by its bob-tail up
to the door and when it was opened, Britten showed
his trophy to Mr. Burdick who beheld the sight. Burdick
promptly became infuriated and shouted that Britten
had shot his cat, whereby slamming the door, and not
speaking to Harry Britten for many years.
In later years, the families of Ernest
Britten and Ora Welch held a birthday party for the
then aged Burdick. Harry was invited to attend, and
he presented the tanned hide of the bobcat to Burdick.
Burdick graciously accepted the peace
offering and told Britten that he would send it to
his daughter who still lived in New York and had recently
In the 1930s, a Civilian Conservation
Corps camp was established on Yucca Creek, and Burdick
became acquainted with the camp supervisor John Grunigen
and his wife. She took food to Abe, who was then over
90 years old, and the CCCs helped him with the maintenance
of his ranch.
Abe Burdick lived in good health and
contentment until his death in June 1935, and the
CCC crew buried him on a knoll above his house in
the shade of a large oak.
Obviously, the salubrious air and climate
of the Three Rivers environs had allowed him to outlive
his sack of beans and slab of sowbelly to reach the
age of 96. One man who truly beat the odds!
Sophie Britten is
a resident of Three Rivers who is in the process of
researching and writing a book on local history.
Concert on the Grass announces
This year’s Concert on the Grass
is shaping up to be one of the most interesting yet
in the long history of the traditional Three Rivers
autumn event. It will be by far the most international
program, with bagpipes and Mexican folkloric dance,
and will span a wider range of musical and spoken
The program opens with David Reid’s
rousing Scottish ballad “Scotland the Brave”
authentically performed on bagpipes. David has been
devoted to bagpipes for decades and performed with
the Tulare County Symphony and numerous other premier
Next, regular Concert attendees will
recognize 13-year-old Lauren Adaska from previous
years. It’s been amazing to follow the development
of this willowy soprano who brings perfect pitch and
evocative phrasing to some of the most beautiful songs
ever written. This year she will perform Giovanni
Paisello’s “Nel cor piu mi sento”
and Pergolisi’s “Se tu m’ami.”
The Belman family (Jesse, Fabi and Marilou)
is well known in Three Rivers as Faena Brava. Their
fusion of classical, flamenco, and contemporary music
will be highlighted by Jovita Metts, a professional
folklorico dancer from Fresno, and Three Rivers cellist
Pat Valentine. Pat has been a member of the Tulare
County Symphony for over 30 years.
Mankin Creek is one of Tulare County’s
premier acoustical ensembles. With stunning vocals
and terrific musicianship Esther Zurcher and Keith
Hamm weave real magic in their blending of bluegrass,
jazz, folk, and country.
Returning from last year, vocalist Leah
Spencer will sing a musical version of a selection
from Shakespeare, and poets Melissa Black and Bill
Haxton will present original poems. Melissa has performed
at public events in San Francisco and now teaches
at Porterville College. Bill is a co-host of the Concert.
The venerable Ken Elias will close this
year’s show with one of Beethoven’s best
known compositions, the deeply moving “Sonata
Pathetique,” and with Claude Debussy’s
“Clair de Lune.”
An open-air art show will kick off the
event at 1:30 p.m. with live jazz clarinetist Raymond
Pitts performing. The concert will begin at 2:30.
The parking shuttles run until 2:25 p.m.
Take Sierra Drive to Dinely and follow
the “Concert” signs to the end of the
Yokohl: Past settlement, proposed
A History of Its People and Their Culture
By Scott Barker
Print Projects, 2009
266 pages, paper, $24.95
Venture through Yokohl Valley these days
and discover quiet roads and rolling hills graced
with grasses, granite, and oaks, a place where cows
outnumber humans. It is hard to imagine this peaceful
valley was once teeming with the native Yokodo people
and, later, pioneer settlers (ca. 1860) and their
families, cattle ranchers, outlaws, immigrants, and
many quirky characters.
A recently published book, Yokohl:
A History of Its People and Their Culture, by
Scott Barker provides a timely account of the history
of Yokohl Valley — located south of Lake Kaweah,
north of Lake Success, and east of Exeter —
as the area is being considered for settlement once
again. This time as a 36,000-acre planned community
as proposed by the EastLake Company, a subsidiary
of the J.G. Boswell Company.
Opponents have come to the fore with
the mission of protecting this pastoral valley that
is today used solely for agricultural purposes, primarily
cattle grazing. That’s where a history book
such as Yokohl proves invaluable; if the land is someday
dotted with homes and highways, then the past has
been better documented, but more importantly, if the
history of a place is accessible to the general public,
then it may provide a rationale for its preservation.
The first impressions of one early settler,
Wilhelm Mehrten, are revealed in Barker’s book:
“The small valley was beautiful. It was
perfect for raising cattle, hogs and the children
he hoped to have one day. The property was away from
the lowlands of the San Joaquin Valley… As he
rode his horse slowly through this foothill savanna,
he touched tops of grass that were as high as his
horse’s neck. He seemed to glide through a sea
of grass. Oaks grew broadly apart, their crowns giving
the valley an appearance of Eden. The landscape was
gently rolling all the way to the valley’s crest.
Most importantly there were three good springs near
the head of the valley with dense patches of willow,
oak, cottonwood and sycamore. He was satisfied that
he and his brothers would settle here in Dry Creek,
in time named for the family: Mehrten Creek.”
Yokohl begins appropriately with the
native people who first inhabited the area —
the Yokodo tribe of the Yokuts — and who are
the valley’s namesake. It merges into a history
of the settlement of the west, which provides context
for the settlement of Tulare County. Yokohl’s
geology is also explored — which leads the reader
into the prospecting and mining era — and the
native flora and fauna are described.
But it’s the stories of the settlers
that are most intriguing. Many names mentioned are
still familiar today, whether through their descendants
or place names on local landmarks — Dungan,
Hector, Jordan, Dennison, Mehrten, Houk, Gill, Blair,
Moffett, Pogue. Several family histories are revealed,
love stories disclosed, and anecdotes told, including
several involving Benjamin Franklin Harris, “the
biggest [and most famous] liar in Tulare County.”
By the end of the 1860s and for a couple
decades after that, there were five schools in Yokohl
Valley, which was a testament to the growing population.
Telephone service arrived in 1910.
But the development of Yokohl in the
20th century was not to be. The author explains that
it was the Industrial Revolution, among other timely
factors, that lured ranchers out of the valley and
to employment in the metropolitan areas of the state.
“By 1914, only twelve registered voters
remained in the valley, the lowest total of any precinct
in Tulare County,” the last chapter states.
“By 1930 most of Yokohl Valley was an empty
shell compared to the bustle of just thirty years
prior. It was restored, however, to its pastoral beauty,”
the author continues.
From here, the book ends with a more
contemporary history, concluding with a description
of the late J.G. Boswell and his company’s business
ventures. This includes a proposal for a new full-service
city to be built where settlers a century ago were
attempting to eke out a living.
So will the settlers and their families
return to Yokohl Valley? That is a chapter that is
waiting to be written as a master-planned community
proposal — which has been approved by the county
Board of Supervisors — simmers on low during
these rocky economic times.
The author Scott Barker
lives, appropriately, on Yokohl Valley Drive in the
Awards bestowed upon River
Early in July, a very busy business owner
in Three Rivers received a phone call.
When the voice at the other end said,
“You have been selected to receive…,”
Dorletta Hildebrand replied, “What kind of gimmick
Rex and Dorletta Hildebrand have owned
and operated the River View Restaurant and Lounge
for almost 13 years. Well known by locals and visitors
alike, the River View also consistently appears on
the list of winners in THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH’s
Best of Kaweah Country readers’ poll.
As it turned out, this phone call was
from the Central Valley Chapter of the California
Restaurant Association and was to advise Dorletta
that the River View was to be recognized at an awards
banquet on July 19 at the Visalia Holiday Inn.
Accepting the invite, Dorletta would
soon find herself in receipt of not one but four awards
on behalf of the River View. The awards are: Certificate
of Special Congressional Recognition (for outstanding
and valuable service to the community), California
Legislature Assembly Certificate of Recognition (reflective
of commitment to quality, customer service, and the
community), California Restaurant Association Certificate
of Achievement (for outstanding contributions to the
restaurant industry and charitable involvement in
the community), and a CRA Food Fight for Hunger plaque
from FoodLink for Tulare County.
Just what does all this mean? As Dorletta
would have it, she, Rex, and the staff of the River
View over the years have just been good neighbors.
Although she does allow that the Riverview
has hosted numerous benefits (at least a dozen) over
the years for those in serious need, Dorletta is modest
regarding her own involvement.
“The whole community gets together for
these benefits,” she said. “It’s
just amazing how many people get involved.”
“Other businesses donate prizes, it’s
not just me… I provide the building and the
food. It’s the whole community coming together
to help a neighbor,” she continued.
She regards the awards as belonging to
the community, and as such they are displayed prominently
at the popular dining and drinking establishment.
Even the distinctive sign at the entrance
to the River View is a community effort. She explained
that Mike Watkins provided the wood, Phil Gomes did
the routing, Wendy McKellar painted it, Rick Gregory
recently sealed and clear-coated it, and Frank Campbell
built the new backdrop and mounted it.
“Community service is the key to longevity
in business,” said Dorletta.
Surely, it also helps that the River
View serves great food and cold drinks and provides
live entertainment to a local populace that still
understands the meaning of the word “neighbor.”
Of course, visitors are welcome, too.
So the next time you’re enjoying
an award-winning burger or a heavenly deep-dish pizza
and a cold one at the Riverview, don’t hesitate
to be proud of the community in which we live. And
say “hello” to your neighbor.
Woodlake Tigers come up short
Valencia Trophy rivalry
The game was never much of a contest
after Austin Albison, the Monarchs quarterback scampered
12 yards for a score with about four minutes left
in the first quarter. Exeter (1-0), who has now kept
the coveted Valencia Trophy for the past seven years,
has an overall record of 46-32-4 in this neighborly
rivalry that dates all the way back to the 1920s.
In those early games Woodlake’s
teams were known as the “Fighting Bantams.”
They didn’t become the Tigers until a decade
or so later. What the team lacked in numbers they
made up for in heart and tenacity.
Not much except the name ever changed, but lately
Woodlake’s Tigers (1-1) have been on the short
end of the score with their Exeter rivals. As a near-capacity
crowd looked on at Woodlake last Friday, the 2009
game merely continued that Valencia trophy series
“They were just bigger and better than
us but to tell you the truth we [the coaches] thought
our guys would play a lot better,” said Jeff
Beck, Tigers assistant coach and offensive coordinator.
“After falling behind 14-0, it was tough for
us to play catch-up because we’re a running
team and don’t really want to pass.”
After gaining an impressive 140 yards
the week before in the Tigers win over Orange Cove,
senior running back Daniel Mesa was throttled by a
dominating Exeter defense. The stingy Monarchs held
the Tigers to just 12 yards rushing and 33 yards passing.
Coach Beck said Exeter, aligned in the
Central Sequoia League with perennial powers like
Kingsburg and Immanuel, will surprise some foes and
is the best defense Woodlake will face all season.
They have at least two All-League players and some
really big, tough linemen, he said.
The lone highlight for the Tigers came
in the third quarter on big hit that Mesa made on
Exeter fullback, Jaycee Toty. The ball popped out
and right into the hands of Ben Rothbaum, the senior
safety who ran 26 yards for a touchdown.
“Ben is our key guy on defense,”
Coach Beck said. “He’s been trained by
Coach Hernandez not to let anyone get by, and he has
the speed to make the big play.”
Beck said this week it was back to the
basics for the Tigers — blocking and tackling
and more blocking and tackling. With eight games left,
one game is not a season, he said.
“Our season is about winning the East
Sequoia League; not going undefeated,” said
Coach Beck. “We are better than what we showed
against Exeter and there will be a big improvement
against Farmersville tonight [Friday, Sept. 18]. We
are going to wear them out with our running game.”
Challah is tradition of Jewish
Challah is one of the foods likely to
appear on Jewish tables next week at Rosh Hashana,
the Jewish New Year, which begins today (Friday, Sept.
18) at sunset.
Challah is traditional for Sabbath too,
and indeed, with its shiny crust and rich eggy flavor
it is popular throughout the year.
But while challah is usually a braided,
more or less oval, loaf, at Rosh Hashana it comes
instead in a circular form, sometimes braided, and
usually decorated with Jewish symbols.
The round breads of Rosh Hashana signify
the cycle of the Jewish year. In the process, Jews
hope to grow and learn and become better each year.
At Rosh Hashana many sweet foods are
served to symbolize a sweet beginning to the new cycle
of Jewish celebrations.
In keeping with this, the round challah
is generally sweetened, sometimes with raisins as
well as honey.
Jewish people everywhere wish each other
“L’Shana Tovah Um’tooka,”
which means "For a Sweet New Year."
Here's a fabulous challah recipe that's
perfect for a sweet new year. The extra little braid
in the center of the loaf in the shape of a ladder
is a symbol that we should climb upward in the new
ROUND HONEY CHALLAH
packages active dry yeast, or 2 cakes fresh compressed
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups warm water
8-9 cups flour, sifted
¾ cup honey
? cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder, (optional)
¾ cup margarine, room temperature
3 eggs, beaten
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
? teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup raisins
1 egg yolk, beaten w/ 1 tsp. water
sesame or poppy seeds, (optional)
In a large mixing bowl dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon
of sugar in ½ cup of warm water. Cover and
let stand for 5-10 minutes until it foams. Beat in
4 cups of flour and remaining ingredients, except
raisins, until smooth (about 5 minutes). Add remaining
flour 2 cups at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add raisins. Knead with a dough hook or
by hand for 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and
turn dough to grease all over. Cover with a damp cloth
and allow to rise until double in bulk (about 1½-2
hours). Punch down. Divide dough into 3 equal parts,
setting a handful aside for the ladder. Roll each
part into a rope 18 inches long. Taper ends. Coil
rope around itself (there should be no hole in the
center) and tuck ends under. Place in a round, 9-inch
To make ladder, make 2 pencil-thin strips,
4 inches long, for sides; and 4 thin strips, 2 inches
wide, for rungs. Fasten securely to top center of
each challah. Cover and place in a warm place for
50 minutes to rise again. Brush with glaze. Sprinkle
with sesame or poppy seeds, if desired. Bake in a
preheated 350° oven for 40-45 minutes. When challah
is done, it has a hollow sound when tapped on bottom.
YIELD: 3 challahs
TREW programs and events
The Three Rivers Environmental Weekend,
a two-day annual event, will begin Saturday, Oct.
3, at the Three Rivers Arts Center, followed on Sunday,
Oct. 4, by a Green Home Tour, the proceeds of which
will benefit Tulare County Citizens for Responsible
Saturday’s event will start at
9 a.m. with the California Native Plant Society-Alta
Peak Chapter’s annual fall plant sale outside
and inside exhibits and information. At 2 p.m., a
presentation sponsored by CNPS will be provided by
John Muir Laws, artist and author of the Laws Field
Guide to the Sierra Nevada.
A morning presentation and exhibit will
feature Max and Jane Eggman of Terra Bella. They produce
the only comb honey in the area and will have some
to sample and for sale (they will not bring live bees).
Guests will find out if bees are faring better than
they have been in recent years and what might be the
cause of the serious bee colony collapse disorder
that has been plaguing bees since at least 2006.
Scott Barker, who recently published
a history of Yokohl Valley (see page 5) will be present
for a book-signing. Sequoia Natural History Association
will be selling books as well.
Annie Esperanza, air resources specialist
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, will
have a multimedia presentation about the environment.
There will be a variety of information tables and
booths, including TCCRG, CNPS, Family Farm Fresh,
and area builders and designers who will retrofit
your home or help you build new.
Mike Cannarozzi will show how the application
of a light-colored roofing product can help counteract
the effect of melting glaciers on global warming.
Brian Rippey will have information on residential
and commercial wastewater treatment systems that can
be added to an existing septic system to purify water.
There will be a home-and-garden art booth
or two outside, featuring some local talent. Bill
Becker and his popular solar-cooking demonstration
will again be onsite.
Lori Werner, spotted owl researcher,
will have an exhibit entitled “All About Owls,”
which children and adults will find very interesting.
There is a rumor that a new species of owl may even
show up for the day...
There will also be a drawing at 4:30
p.m. for free door prizes.
The Green Home Tour on Sunday will feature
five Three Rivers homes. The donation is $15 per person;
$25 per couple. To register for a tour — either
at noon or 1 p.m. — call 561-4676.
As it was last year, the tour is registered
as part of the ASES National Solar Tour, the largest
grassroots solar energy event in the nation. Compare
it to other similar tours in California (this is one
of only 16) by going to www.nationalsolartour.org.
Click on “Find Tours,” then on California.