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Ventura county

Native Americans, Herbs & Lanny Kaufer

by Lorraine on February 14, 2012

Once a month I volunteer with the U.S. Forest Service to help maintain the trails north of Ojai in Ventura County, CA.   I’ve been doing this for a number of years and I always enjoy meeting people that show up for this event and spending a day with good friends.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to meet a large variety of personalities and from all different types of professions including those who are fortunate enough to be retired and have the wear with all to pick up a Maddox or a McCloud & join us on the trail for a day of frivolity.

Well, not quite.   We tend to work our butts off but there is tremendous satisfaction at the end of the day, knowing that we have made a trail more passable  for hikers, equestrians and and available to people that come out to enjoy wilderness for the day.

On my last event, I met Lanny Kaufer and as it turned out, he has a very interesting background in ethnobotany, the local native American culture and the use of wild herbs for ceremonies, crafts and gardening and has been leading walks and holding workshops for quite some time.

He leads walks in the local mountains to provide education for people that are interested in local plants and their uses and teaches how to identify the plants and their uses.   This sounds like something I should be signing up for, sometime in the future.

He’s a very interesting guy and as we were “chugging” of the trail together, we shared a discussion of our mutual love of nature and in particular native plants…

I’m sure that I will probably be seeing him on the next Forest Service event in March but in the meanwhile you may want to take a look at his web site.   It’s very well done.



Hippies, El Paseo & Conserving Water

by Lorraine on January 23, 2011

I am sitting here, chuckling over Antonio’s very funny comments about growing up in El Paso and how different the culture is there from here due to the Hippie sensibilities to protect nature  and live in such a way to promote sustainability,  protect the environment and live healthy and happily.

We have our Hippies, too but most of them these days are now part of the senior citizen community but still faithful to loving the planet, growing their own food and not wasting anything….in spite of the over the top consumerism that is so prevalent in Southern California.

Antonio speaks:

“Now that I think about it, my people back in El Paso actually weren’t all hippies (they were Chippies – Chicano Hippies!), they have simply learned to live with what they have.  Yes, we were probably forced to live with this reality by high water prices and strict watering restrictions, but the fact of the matter is that water conservation is a way of life in El Paso. It doesn’t matter if you are a Conservative, a Liberal or whatever Obama is choosing to be these days (Ouch!), 9 inches of rain a year is 9 inches, there ain’t no changing that! 

 Now, I am no water expert, no scientist, not even a botanist, and if I go to Arizona I am not even a U.S. Citizen, but I am smart enough to know this – We and the rest of Southern California need to get to where El Paso is.  We need to be able to wake up every morning and make water conservation a part of our life, without thinking about it.  We need to accept where we live, and realize we can’t keep taking unlimited amounts of water from Sacramento or from our own groundwater supplies without consequences.

  And don’t worry all of you who fear that your property values will go down because of all the cactus and mesquite trees that will be moving into your neighborhood; As far as landscaping goes, Ventura County will never look like Phoenix or El Paso, mostly because many of those desert plants don’t grow well out here.

  Along with much cooler summer temperatures, our spoiled landscapes get a lot of their moisture from just being close to the ocean and being able to kiss the fog every night (damn that was poetic).  But on the flip-side, El Paso and other desert cities can get flash floods in the summer from all of those big monsoon storms, something that would be almost impossible to get here in Southern California because we receive almost no rain from May-October (That’s 5-6 months of no rain, that means our native plants have evolved with this dry time!

 Can you imagine not watering your current garden for 5-6 months?).  So what’s the point of all of this rambling?  Well, my hope is that we all become El Paso-type hippies soon and learn to love Fajitas……I mean, live within our water means. That would be a huge first step.

  Let’s all appreciate that we are not in a desert, but our home is desert-like.  Let’s be proud of our Mediterranean Climate and what it means for ourselves, our families, and our futures.  It’s crazy to think that planting one native plant or one small low-water yard can make a difference, but it can.  I read somewhere that over 50% of the water used by homeowners in Southern California is used outside the house on landscaping.

  While I am not exactly sure how true this is (because it wasn’t on Wikileaks), it is probably more true than false.  Just like the landscaping in El Paso and other desert cities blends in with the surrounding landscape, the day is coming that gardens in Southern California will reflect our local hills and canyons. 

Who knows, your front yard may have once been home to some white sage, lemonadeberry or an oak tree, providing food for people and wildlife.  And even more importantly, maybe its’ time to bring those old friends back……Plant Native, Enjoy Life!”