Today is the day we pick up the U-haul and get the stage from the John Muir Historic site, and then Jon loads the pile of everything into the truck to be ready for tomorrow.
It’s a long day for Jon (especially since he had to meet the restroom delivery at 7:00) but honestly I can’t help but feel relieved it’s finally here. Everyone works terribly hard the day of the beaver festival. The entire day is practically a blur and everyone’s exhausted by the end, but my personal, 6 month trial will be mostly over before the day even begins. All the planning, promoting, wheedling, scheming, arranging and rearranging will be finished. Once I make sure that every item on my many lists gets into that truck, and gets unloaded to approximately the right places tomorrow, my work is pretty much finished. Every single one of my arrows, such as they are, will be fired. Now it will be everyone else’s job to get the baton across the finish line.
I just have to sit in the shade and talk about beavers all day. How hard is that?
So let’s celebrate my impending emancipation with this lovely article. It ran in the Martinez Gazette yesterday and I was surprised to see it because we already got our ‘official’ plug. Vivian Roubal’s inviting writing style makes the entire column a must read, but her finishing paragraphs brought tears to my eyes.
A Beaver Festival? By golly, there’s always something going on in Martinez! A day in Martinez can be a wild adventure! A wildlife adventure, that is.
One particularly fine morning in March at about 6 a.m., I stopped on Marina Vista Avenue near Castro Street to check out the beaver dam. Sometimes I get lucky and see the famous Martinez beavers swimming or walking along the creekside, but that morning the waters were fairly calm; a water skeeter-bug here or there and that was it. I was about to continue my walk when I heard a small splashing sound. It seemed to come from right under me, so I got up on tippy-toes and leaned over the chest-high railing on the bridge. I looked straight down, hoping to catch sight of a beaver or whatever made the splash.
Plunk! My brand new glasses (with rhinestones!) fell right off my head and dropped straight down into the creek. A small brown cloud swallowed them up whole. Son of a gun.
Don’t worry her daughter and husband manage to get those glasses back, (with the help of a kind stranger) and the entire operation makes for excellent story-telling. (And explains some footprints!) But this was obviously my favorite part. It starts by recounting the beaver history and then launches into the prose of our good friend Rick Lanman (Rickipedia).
According to my friend Wikipedia, “Now protected, the beaver have transformed Alhambra Creek from a trickle into multiple dams and beaver ponds, which in turn, led to the return of steelhead and North American river otter in 2008 and mink in 2009. The Martinez beavers probably originated from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta which once held the largest concentration of beaver in North America.”
And the “Worth a Dam” website (MartinezBeavers.org) says, “Beaver experts from across the country have come to Martinez to appreciate this unique setting and learn about our community response. The beavers have become a unifying symbol for an expanding town that can often be uncertain of its center. This represents a unique opportunity to demonstrate humane environmentalism in the home town of John Muir.”
Jeff and I enjoyed the Beaver Festival last year. There were lots of wildlife informational booths, many activities for children, and guided tours of the beaver habitat. It was a joyful place to be.
So do something out of the ordinary. Come to the 7th annual Beaver Festival on Saturday, Aug. 2, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Beaver Park (corner of Marina Vista and Castro streets). There will be live music, wildlife exhibits from seven counties, children’s activities and beaver tours. The first 100 children can earn a charm necklace.
Go ahead. Walk on the wild side! Don’t be square, see you there!
How sweet is that? Honestly I was all kinds of touched. It really is a joyful place to be. And this year I feel the benevolence more strongly than any other except maybe the first. The beaver festival seems to unlock generosity in people. I feel like I keep getting lovely surprises that were not at all the result of my planning. Like Deidre Martin organizing the Wetland Express from Oakland, or a volunteer from Auburn contacting me out of the blue to help with two of her relatives, or this email from Faith of the Beavers Rowing Team at Mare Island;
Hi, my name is Faith and I am a member of The Straits of Mare Island Rowing Association. I row for a mixed team that we proudly call The Beavers. This year our youngest team mate was told she has stage 3 breast cancer. In an effort to help her with expenses we has a fundraiser selling green silicon bracelets with the phrase Beaver Believer with beaver prints on each side. We where able to raise $1300.00 for our dear friend, but have quite a few bracelet left over. As a team we decided we would like to donate the remaining bracelets to a great beaver cause. Let me know if you are interested.
So do you think I was interested? The next morning she dropped off about 200 of these at my house.
Those are front and rear foot prints, just so you know. Everyone who volunteers and everyone who picks up at least a 10 dollar item from membership will take one home.Thanks so much Faith and your generous team, I hope your youngest member is doing excellent and sticks around until she becomes your oldest member!
Oh and the truant in me loves the idea that she invites us all to the beaver festival and adds “as long as you have a parking place, you might check out the peddler’s faire.”
And as long as you’ve already found a parking space, might as well enjoy the Peddlers Faire on Main Street where you’ll find plenty to choose from. There will be a huge variety of antiques and collectibles, from glassware to pottery and furniture to Native American wares and much more. Enjoy the downtown stores and the over 50 local craft vendors. Then treat yourself to a fabulous lunch in any one of our great restaurants.
Considering the beaver festival has always been the red-headed step child of the peddler’s faire, once expressly advised to stay clear and now with a greater attendance, TV promotion and better press than it’s patron, I think we’re doing okay. Good will is on our side.