Monday, September 20, 2010

Get Outside!

Oh the weather outside is N-I-C-E! Yeah duh. Like no one has noticed. Fall, or Autumn as i like to call it because it sounds – well – more pumpkiny, is just a few days away. The Autumnal Equinox is Sept. 22 at 8:09pm PDT, a time when day and night are equal length. (And the 23rd is the full moon!) It’s such an outdoorsy time. I want to lie in the sun, wiggle my toes in the earth, and watch the leaves fall. Eat chick-a-dee candy. Breath in the cool morning air and bake pumpkin muffins – because i know in just a few more months the weather will turn cold, wet, and grey. Not that that’s a bad thing. But the knowing what’s ahead is what makes the present day even sweeter.

There are some events and places that are dear to my heart and satisfy my need for Nature and just good kid fun. I debated a bit before putting Apple Hill on the list because it’s so well-known, but it really is a fantastic place to visit.

SacramentoEffie Yeaw Nature Center

I’m always surprised at how many locals have never heard of this beautiful place. It should be at the top of everyone’s list as a great outdoor nature park and information center. And don’t think you have to be a kid to enjoy its bounty!

The park was named after a wonderful teacher, a woman whose passion for conservation spurred the interest of local citizens and councilmen alike and brought about the preservation of what is now the American River Parkway system. The Center has live exhibits, guided tours, a reconstructed Maidu village, and multiple trails that meander through meadows and woods down to the river. In less than one hour, on a visit i made this past Spring, i counted a dozen different animals and butterflies.

 RosevilleMaidu Museum and Historic Site (formerly the Maidu Interpretive Center)

Here’s another beautiful and under-appreciated place located right in the middle of Roseville. This center boasts a wonderful, brand new museum – just completed earlier this Spring. The thing i found remarkable and exciting is that this is an actual site of an ancient Maidu town. The people of this land lived and died here for 1000’s of years.  There is so much history here in fact that the Center is listed with the National Register of Historic Places. There are numerous petroglyphs, whose meanings have been lost to time, and over 300 bedrock mortars that the Maidu used to grind their acorns. A fresh spring runs through the site – which is quite pretty – and provides water to many animals that live in the area – coyote, beaver, ground squirrels and more.

Elk GrovePumpkin Festival
For you festival go-ers, this is a great chance to get out and enjoy the weather and support your local pumpkin! There’s music, a scarecrow decorating contest, food – lots of pumpkin recipes and contests of course – and even a pumpkin regatta on Sunday! Yes – they hollow out a real pumpkin and race it across the lake. No joke. There’s also the heftiest pumpkin contest – last year’s winner weighed in at 1,467.5 lbs! I suppose that’s where they grow pumpkins for Cinderella’s coach.

PlacervilleApple Hill
I suppose i don’t need to say much about this one. Apple Hill and Autumn celebrations go hand-in-hand. One of my best memories of when i first moved to Sacramento was when a group of friends and i went to Apple Hill and ate just about every pie concoction made. Our bellies were poking out from under our shirts but – oh! – the pies were so yummy! Definitely good times! Apple Hill has grown so much over the years that i strongly suggest you take a look at the maps available on the website. I really, really like it too that organic produce is available. Nice. I prefer my apples sans pesticides and non-GMO! ;-)

Museum Day - Sept 25th Only!
If allergies or bad weather make it difficult to go outside – there is the Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day where you and a friend or family member can print a ticket from their website and get in to a participating museum for free! (The Maidu Museum is one of those…) Click on their “Find A Museum Near You” button, click on your state, and you can scroll through all the museums that are observing this special.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dancing At The Lake

Dance is beautiful. Um, let me clarify, not the kind of dance i do at clubs – which is flailing around like my hair is on fire – but graceful, expressive movement of body and soul. THAT kind of dancing. I got a chance to see a troupe the other night in a very unique setting –
 E: motion Dance Ensemble at Willow Hill Reservoir in Folsom. The setting was completely different than my memory of college ballet performed in the bowels of a dark theatre. Willow Hill is everything that a theatre is not. Light, airy, fresh, charming. It’s nestled between the arms of Prairie City Road and Iron Point Road adjacent to Folsom High School. Though small, it has a lovely blue pond with cattails rimming one side and tall trees on the other. This picturesque setting was the perfect backdrop for the stage. Who needs a theatre when you have such a wonderful vista!

I got turned on to E: motion through a friend who dances with the group. According to their website, E: motion is dedicated to a limitless fusion of jazz, ballet, modern, musical theatre and basically any number of combinations and creations to express the vision of the director and dancers. Though E: motion has been around for several years, this is the first season they have not been associated with The Sacramento Ballet.

The day had been just a tad too warm, but by 6 PM the sun was dropping low and the Delta breeze kicked up, chilling the sweat off our bodies. The dance began. Lovely. Expressive. Fun. Silly. Theatrical. Heart-wrenchingly beautiful. I loved it all. I’m not a dance critic. And i don’t really care if everyone is in perfect synch or if someone misses a step – what i’m looking for is the overall expression and do i connect to that? The exquisite delicacy of pain etched on a face, the tenderness of arms as they unfold like flowers opening to the sun, the bouncing rhythm of feet hitting the stage, this is the real experience for me. And it was all just lovely. But better than i can express in words – pictures. See for yourself what a wonderful thing it is to Dance!