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Four Great South Lake County Wineries Perfect for Picnics

One of my favorite months of the year is May. Not only does it continue to bring spring flowers, but also picnics! With North America’s oldest freshwater lake, mountains, parks, vineyards, and wineries, it would seem Lake County was destined to be a picnic paradise. Drive just about any direction, and a scenic view made to enjoy awaits. And if you love wine, here are some of the most scenic spots and fantastic wine picnic spots in South County.

What’s Up This Week – 5.17.24

While driving this week, my daughter commented on seeing more sports cars than usual in Lake County. I smiled and reminded her that we live in a tourist destination and people from all over are visiting and opening their vacation homes up again for the season. And come Memorial Day through Labor Day, Lake County will be hopping with so many events, live music concerts, and winery events. And if that’s not enough, there are lakes, parks, and mountains waiting to be explored. It kinda reminds me of visiting the Lakeport Speedway and hearing the engines all revved up at the starting line, ready for the race to begin. It’s a wonderful time of year, isn’t it?

This week, we’re going to kick off a two-week series on one of my favorite things to do in Lake County: picnicking. I, for one, absolutely love, love all things picnics, and if you add wine to the occasion, well, that’s just about heaven. So we’ll get started with that, and then Kathleen Scavone will talk about Clark’s Island and Nylander Park and how they came to be. Then, you won’t want to miss out on the Our Voice column when David Donihue brings us another poetry video. Seriously, don’t miss it. Then, catch up on what is happening with live music in Lake County, some really good news, and local history. Whatever your plans are for the weekend, I hope it includes some outdoor time. Have a great weekend, Lake County!

Experience Nylander Park and Clark’s Island in Clearlake Oaks

With myriad outdoor opportunities available in Lake County, sometimes it’s easy to overlook the small parks that dot the landscape. Two such parks are found in Clearlake Oaks, where you can picnic, fish, or simply bird-watch – Clarks Island and Nylander Park. Both provide a shady interval from a busy day. 

Everything’s Poetic: A Poetry Video

This is the 32nd official poetry video that Donihue has released this year, so if you have yet to see his series The Poetry Verse, make sure and visit the channel page when done watching.

Everything’s Poetic starts like the darkest of tales, a somber poem with a haunting original score carrying the desperate words of a former addict and present-day depressive. Yet in his momentary state of hopelessness, epiphanies are born. The philosophy of the empath is employed, changing his disposition entirely.

Everything’s Poetic will penetrate you in the beginning and then leave you cheering for our headless hero and life itself by the end.

What’s Up This Week – 5.11.23

Hello, my friends. This week, I am slowly returning back to the land of the living as I continue to recover from my surgery. Boy, oh boy, is recovery time-consuming. I’m not complaining; I just didn’t realize how long two weeks can really be until everything slowed down to a crawl.

This weekend, I will spend more time resting at home and celebrating Mother’s Day with my family. But, if I were up to it, and if you don’t already have plans and really want to wow the mom(s) in your life, boy, do I have an idea for you! We’ll get things started when we re-release my trip to Wild Diamond Vineyards. It’s a Lake County treasure and a truly spectacular experience for that special someone in your life. Then we’ll read the next Pay It Forward article, enjoy some poetry in the Our Voice Column, catch up on what’s happening with live music in the Lake County Music Guide, and read a little good news and some local history. I hope you have a special weekend celebrating the Moms in your lives. And remember, a visit to Wild Diamond Vineyard is a guaranteed win-win for oohs and ahhs. Have a great weekend, Lake County and Happy Mother’s Day.

Get Away From it All: Wild Diamond Vineyards

Let’s face it; Lake County is truly the place you go to get away from the real world. There are few better ways to leave the city, relax, and enjoy some incredible wine. Let me take you on an adventure. 

It all starts on Spruce Grove Road–meander through rural Lake County before turning on the gravel driveway that winds upward towards Wild Diamond Vineyards. Traverse an oak grove, winding higher and higher in elevation as the oaks slowly turn to pine trees. That’s when you know you’re almost there. At the tasting room–or more accurately, mountain top–the world turns truly silent and still. A strong breeze greets you first as you step out of your car, a reminder that the world is far, far below.

At Home in the Wild: What I Learned as Poet-in-Residence on the Boston Harbor Islands – by Brian Sonia-Wallace

Just beyond the skyscrapers, there are wild islands in Boston Harbor. A series of “drowned drumlands,” they are peaks formed by glaciers during the last ice age and are now sunk in the Atlantic. Today they are a dazzling archipelago of blackberry thickets and quaint New England cottages, with the Boston skyline looming on the horizon during sunset. Shortly before the pandemic, I served for two weeks as the islands’ Poet-in-Residence.

Pay it Forward: Toads Jump

I am happy to present to you our 32nd local business spotlighted in the Pay it Forward feature – Toads Jump.

Our recent Lake County business featured was Middletown Mail & More and Vehicle Registration Service and owner, Chanele Hellwege chose to Pay it Forward to Toads Jump.

Lake County Music Guide – 5.7.24

Somebody please thumbtack the sun to the mid-day sky so we know what to expect! Sheesh! Put the long johns into the winter bin, take them back out of the bin. Remove a blanket from the bed, put it back on the bed. Well, it’s a good thing we have live music to keep us warm. Here’s the live music guide for the week of 5/7 through 5/13, (F.Y.I., lots of Nancy Wright this weekend), …

What’s Up This Week – 5.3.24

This week, I had to leave Lake County to undergo a minor surgery to allow me to breathe and smell like the rest of humanity. But even though I was in Santa Rosa, I had the joy of getting to know my nurse, Patty, who lives in Hidden Valley Lake. It’s a small world, and I run into people from Lake County all over the place. Thank you, Patty, for your wonderful, compassionate care. I couldn’t have been in better hands. So, this week’s email will be a bit shorter as I am on the mend.

Our wildflowers are in full bloom at our place, filling the air with fragrance. This week, take a journey with Kathleen Scavone as she shares the uniqueness of Lake County’s amazing blooms. Then catch up on some good news, the Music Guide, and a bit of history of Mount Konocti. I’ll be spending this weekend recovering, but be sure to go and enjoy all the beauty Lake County has to offer, and stay safe.

Savoring the Hours of Flowers

Solar-powered flowers of spring and summertime have a way of putting a smile on everyone’s face. It’s comforting to observe the quiet and gentle unfolding of spring each year. I like to look for the ‘usual suspects’: flowers that show up almost like clockwork, such as plentiful poppies in the fields along Lake County highways, or the shade-craving trillium that materialize as stealthily as a grazing deer under the pines, appearing almost prehistoric with three petals and three bracts or modified leaves. Native trillium is understood to be a ‘tri flower’ and is also known as wake-robin. Trillium proliferates in the gentle climates of North America and Asia.

Lake County Music Guide – 4.30.24

Hola, mis amigos y amigas, it’s Cinco de Mayo this coming Sunday – one of my favorite traditional events. But from what I’ve been told, it’s not the most celebrated day in Mexico – nothing like Mexican Independence Day. And rather than simply being an excuse to drink beer, eat tapas and dance, in Mexico it’s an important celebration of a famous victory between the Mexican people of Pueblo and an invading French army. S’okay, I still like beer and tapas and dancing. Here’s the live music schedule for the week of 4/30 to 5/6…

What’s Up This Week – 4.26.24

And just like that, we’re about to say goodbye to April and hello to May! This spring has been a blur of projects and must-dos to get ready for summer. And the one chore I’ve put off the longest is painting. Everything needs a touch-up this year, both indoors and outdoors. I think it’s worth the effort because looking at fresh paint is so satisfying, but I’m not very fond of the process. So there’s my complaint in my life. And if that’s my biggest complaint, life is really good when I think about it. So that puts things in perspective. I don’t know how your spring projects are coming along, but the calendar says we still have another month. So, it gives us plenty of time to procrastinate!

This week, I am very excited to continue my Blue Zone journey with you when I talk about the Power 9 principle of purpose. Boy, is this a fun one! It’s potentially a life changer–at least it has been for me. Then we get to catch up on the latest Pay It Forward article by Lori Armstrong, two poems by our very own Kathleen Scavone, Mike Guarniero’s Music Guide, a bit of good news and finish up with some local history. This weekend, I get to put off my paint projects because I have branches to collect for a local wood chipping day. Lucky me! Have a great weekend, Lake County!

Exploring the Blue Zones Power 9 Principle of Purpose

Fun fact. Did you know that the majority of the Blue Zones Power 9 principles of healthy living are less about diet and exercise and more about your overall well-being? It’s true. Only three of the Power 9 principles have to do with food and exercise or, in Blue Zone language, natural movement. This is a potential game changer for your life, not just your physical health.

Retail Roulette: Exploring the Surprises of Lake County’s Falling Price Store

Can I be perfectly honest with you? I’ve spent weeks debating whether to write about this unique shopping experience or not. You can guess what won the debate. 

Do you think you’ve seen it all in Lake County when it comes to shopping? I thought I had. But then my girls came home a couple of times with new clothes and kept telling me about the Falling Price Store in Lakeport. At first, I dismissed them. But then I saw the items they kept finding, and it piqued my curiosity. So, with time to spare on a rainy, blustery Friday, I decided to see just what there is to see in this unique, one-of-a-kind store.

Stitched Up – By Tom Squitieri

It is a sunrise in the middle of the night, an aberration of moments, the jarring of history and hope, of that seismic shift in life. The full force of the universe from the past, reminding of the day and the moment. That path is one that can no longer be followed. On March 5, 1993, it happened. The dodging that had been so successful in so many war zones faltered.

The Hitch in the Oxbow – By Jim Steele

As I sat listening to a presentation about the plight of the Clear Lake hitch, I daydreamed a little about how the County looked many years ago when the small fish ruled the lake. Back before the time of agriculture and flood control districts, streams meandered across the low-gradient valleys, coastal plains, and the shores of Clear Lake. Fish species like the hitch, roach, and sucker occupied these slow-moving, mostly shallow streams and lakes and were the food for indigenous tribes on their shores. Their life history and habitats dictate their survival.

Pay It Forward – Middletown Florist & Gifts

Middletown Florist & Gifts is locally owned and operated by Julie Willis, Ellen Munk & Mary Costa; creating and providing exquisite floral arrangements, delivery, local gifts and more. Middletown Florist & Gifts offers a beautiful website filled with colorful floral options—everything from spring bouquets to cherry blossoms to a unique designer’s choice arrangement. They even offer matching cards to accompany your bouquet.

Congratulations, You’ve Won a Pandemic! By Ondine Kuraoka

“Congratulations, you’ve won—” Rainie turned off the car radio and sat in her driveway. A fresh splatter of bird poop decorated the corner of the dusty windshield. A siren howled in the distance. Maybe working from home would be less stressful anyway. She was about to open the car door but leaned back against the soft, moon-grey upholstery, cocooning a moment before whatever came next.

Following the Yellow-Signed Roads – By Lauren Oertel

I spent many Saturday mornings of my childhood yard sale hunting with my mom. After I finished my bowl of cereal, we’d hop into her car and drive around the neighborhood, following the trail of cardboard signs.

There were a few ways we’d evaluate each one before deciding to commit. As our car crawled in the street in front of them, we’d scan for how many other cars were there, how many people were browsing the selection, and if anything jumped out as especially exciting. It was mostly clothing we were looking for. The good stuff.

Lichen: Lessons from Nature

When the tumult of water across the lands of Lake County subsides, and the cotton-puff clouds sit complacently above, what better time to find and focus on life forms like lichen. Wetness adds wonder to small things, changing it. The transformation from desiccation to plump, pliable greenery is remarkable. Nature never holds back, and there is always something new to meet the eye; and an already gorgeous sight is improved with a closer look.

Exploring the Power 9 Principle of Move Naturally

My Blue Zones journey is far from slowing down. But I’ll be perfectly honest with you: the Power 9 principle of Move Naturally has had me stumped for the past year or so. But that’s because I was looking at all wrong. Let me explain. 

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