Beginning Tuesday, this space will be taken over by talented writers of various sizes, shades and stripes while I take time to recharge my batteries for the stretch run leading into various battles, including elections in both November and March.
I’m fully aware that the Davis City Council plans its agenda around my annual absence, scheduling its most contentious issues for the very time period I’ll be gone. Thus, it was no coincidence the council reconvened just last week after being AWOL in August.
But make no mistake. I will be lurking in the background, ready to yank back ownership of this space in an instant should the council or the school board or the powers-that-be at UC Davis take one false step during my time away.
The same for the Woodland City Council, which so boldly marched into our Community Chambers not so many months ago to issue a stern warning about breaking off our engagement to share Sacramento River water happily ever after.
I’ll be watching all of them. Closely. I’ll be watching our school board candidates. I’ll be watching the Chamber PAC. I’ll be watching the Aggie football team. I’ll be watching John Garamendi and Kim Vann. I’ll be watching the Fall Equinox on the East Area Tank. I’ll be watching Barack Obama fiddling with the nation’s unemployment numbers. And I’ll be watching Mitt Romney to be sure he pays at least 13 percent of his income in taxes.
I’ll be able to watch them all this year because I plan to take one of those increasingly popular “staycations,” where you save on gas and cruise ships and motels by overnighting in your own luxurious home and enjoying the attractions your hometown has to offer.
I mean, if the city of Davis and You Only Live Once County both have their very own visitors bureaus, maybe there’s something I’m missing by always heading for the Oregon coast at this time of year. Now, I don’t know if you can get pan-fried razor clams, Dungeness crab cakes and homemade huckleberry pie in downtown Davis, but I aim to find out.
I plan to ride a tomato harvester under a full moon at midnight, crawl through the historic Toad Tunnel, visit the Toomey Battlefield where helmeted warriors used to roam, climb to the Top of the Mrak, and take in the magnificent sunsets over the Putah Hills from the town’s highest point atop the Covell Overpass.
In this space you will hear from some of the very best this talented town has to offer, including Larry Vanderhoef, the Chancellor Emeritus of a nearby world-class university, who will share his perspective on the special needs of learning-disabled students at the college level.
Also slated for your reading pleasure are Davis native Will Portello, who reveals his ghostwriting job for a prominent local politician, and Cathy Carr West, the only public school teacher in Davis with two Olympic gold medals.
Speaking of the Olympics, Tom Hall gives an insider’s view in a moving piece about the Special Olympics, Aimee Deem gives thanks to St. Anthony after an excruciating lost-and-found experience, Laura Shapiro notes how seemingly innocent words can cut deeply, and Davis High School senior Isabelle Chen convincingly compares Davis to the rest of the world.
But wait, there’s more.
“And so today begins Day One of Camp Courageous,” writes Katherine Duren, who, with deep love, tells a compelling story that’s a must-read for every parent.
And while we’re on the subject of deep love, Nancy Hardaker’s “A Tale of Two Hearts” is another essay that pulls at the heartstrings, as does Karen Levy’s piece on the great difficulty of letting go.
On the other hand, if you’re interested in figuring out how to sneak contraband adult beverages into your favorite professional sports venue to avoid sticker shock at the concession stand, Marc Schmatjen is your man.
And finally, 102-year-old Herb Bauer returns to write with great insight and great humor about a “significant event” down the road: his “impending death,” as he puts it. Given that I expect Herb to still be entering this contest 50 years from now, we may have to redefine the word “impending,” but at the very least, it’s worth reading what Herb has to say.
You’ll have a chance to enjoy all of the above and ponder their words in the days ahead only if the Davis City Council behaves itself and I don’t have to reclaim this spot prematurely.
Only time will tell.
— Reach Bob Dunning at [email protected]