As an antidote to East Bay Open Studios, I ventured south on the recommendation of a friend, in order to visit Coyote Hills Regional Park for an afternoon of relaxed painting and gazing. The landscape in all directions is incredible with views of the shimmering salt flats at the end of the bay. The marshes on either side of the hills reveal exquisite color and on the very sunny day that we were there, the endless, subtle color shifts were utterly absorbing and hypnotic. The shots below are only from my phone but when I do return again, I’ll post some more serious paintings and sketches. Before we got to the magic of Coyote Hills however, we had detoured very slightly to visit a few kindred spirits of the land … who you also can meet if you scroll down.
The romance of Ardenwood
Huge swathes of the east bay were fertile farmland until the seepage of urban sprawl swallowed it all up. Now Ardenwood Historic Farm is a little oasis of heaven in Fremont, where families and children can wander at will and Thursday-Sunday visitors can chat with docents in period dress engaged in traditional farming practices and tour the house. The farm is still operating along traditional lines and at weekends this includes a functioning blacksmith’s shop, outdoor cooking and train rides.
Shakespeare’s Forest in Fremont
Ardenwood was named after the forest in Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ and even had its own little railway station back in the day. We had a magical time exploring its 200 acres. In addition to pigs (who were having a mud bath during our visit), chickens, turkeys and rabbits, there are sheep and goats galore as well as peacocks and pheasant, doves and a few cows.
The amazing 4-H program
We wandered around and talked to a very self-assured teenager tending two pigs through the 4-H program. Established around 100 years ago, this organization teaches leadership and communication skills through the rearing of livestock and other creative projects. Now I know why all those teenagers were hanging out with their pigs, goats and sheep at the Alameda County Fair last year. Long may it continue.
As we left the Visitor’s Center, a mother yanked on her son’s arm “Come on!” she yelled, “We don’t want to miss McDonald’s do we?” Oh my.