Sonoma Mountain Sunset

Just east of our house is Sonoma Mountain. While I tend to prefer the west side of town, this is definitely one of the benefits of living on the edge of the east side. I loved the character of this particular tree, and it made for a beautiful setting and stunning sunset view.

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Good Morning Petaluma

I went for an early morning run the other day, right along the fence line on the east side of Petaluma. With everything going on lately, I find my morning runs to be the most relaxing.

It was a beautiful morning. The sun was coming up, the birds were chirping, and even the cows gave me a “good morning” nod as I passed by. I took this photo from my phone, right along my favorite running trail. It was a beautiful start to a beautiful day.

I hope you have a wonderful day!

Good Morning Petaluma

I went for an early morning run the other day, right along the fence line on the east side of Petaluma. With everything going on lately, I find my morning runs to be the most relaxing.

It was a beautiful morning. The sun was coming up, the birds were chirping, and even the cows gave me a “good morning” nod as I passed by. I took this photo from my phone, right along my favorite running trail. It was a beautiful start to a beautiful day.

I hope you have a wonderful day!

Springtime in Petaluma

It is cloudy in Petaluma today, but you can still feel spring in the air. The flowers are blooming, the air is warming up, and the scent of fresh-cut grass looms under your nose. Spring is definitely here, and our backyard is finally starting to show it.

Down the street, there are a few beautiful blooming trees. I couldn’t resist playing with my camera for these.

What a beautiful afternoon.

Hands Around Shollenberger: A day to demonstrate commitment to a local gem

Meg has a J.D. in Urban, Land Use and Environmental Law. She focuses on maintaining the balance of community and environmental health, healthy lifestyles, and encouraging sustainable living.

Shollenberger Park is located on the south side of Petaluma. It also sits on the east side of the Petaluma River. This wonderful park is home to a huge variety of birds, many of which do not have an equally safe environment close by. The habitat created by the wetlands and the surrounding park is ideal for both birds and bird watchers alike, while also creating a beautiful sanctuary for walkers, runners, families and their canine companions. My husband and I have brought Lily and Cousteau here several times.

Though I am new to Petaluma, I have quickly become aware of the dedication to preserving local gems such as Shollenberger Park. Many of them fall under siege from developers and changing times, but the support from the community to protect these areas is quite amazing. Shollenberger in particular is at risk of having a new neighbor, an asphalt plant, which would be located directly across the river. Environmentalists are concerned that this addition would compromise the integrity of the wetlands and surrounding habitats, as well as destroying valuable resources for local wildlife.

As a demonstration of their commitment to protecting the park, over 1300 people gathered at Shollenberger on Sunday for “Hands Around Shollenberger.” Supporters wore red, as a Valentine’s Day dedication to the park, and stood hand to hand all the way around the two-mile trail. It was an amazing site to see. Neither the cold nor the wind could keep these hearty souls away. At 3:00pm, a plane flew overhead to take an aerial photograph of the event. I am excited to see the results. It truly was inspiring to see the dedication from local citizens to preserving Shollenberger Park.

If you are interested in learning more about the effort to protect Shollenberger, I recommend visiting the Save Shollenberger Website here.

Petaluma’s Lighted Boats

Meg has a J.D. in Urban, Land Use and Environmental Law. She focuses on maintaining the balance of community and environmental health, healthy lifestyles, and encouraging sustainable living.

As new locals to Petaluma, my husband and I have been trying to explore as much of our new surroundings as possible. It is truly an amazing experience to move from Kansas City to California, and every weekend we find something new and fun to “research.” Sometimes it’s a vineyard in the wine country, or a beach in Point Reyes National Park. This past weekend we decided to explore Petaluma’s “old town” (downtown), where we watched to annual Petaluma Lighted Boats on the river.

The boats were supposed to come up the river and into the turning basin (which is basically located in the middle of downtown) around 6:00 or 6:30pm on Saturday. We thought we would go downtown around 5:00pm, walk around a little bit, visit my new favorite furniture store, Roe & Co., and then wander over to the river walk to see the boats. Little did we know, it was going to be packed! We barely found a parking spot, and when we made our way to the river walk, we were fighting for a space to actually see the river. There must have been several thousand people wandering around. It was amazing!

Our next adventure will be to take the driving tour of Petaluma’s Lighted Houses and Businesses. I have to say, for a community without snow, Petaluma sure knows how to reign in the holiday spirit. It’s a wonderful place to be for our first Christmas season away from our hometown.

Running into an idea

Meg has a J.D. in Urban, Land Use and Environmental Law. She focuses on maintaining the balance of community and environmental health, healthy lifestyles, and encouraging sustainable living.

I am a runner. I know everyone already knows that. The fun thing about running for me, besides the great exercise, is that I often come up with a lot of new ideas, usually spurred by my surroundings. Two interesting things happened to me on my run today. One, I found a very sweet little chihuahua on a corner as I was crossing the street from the running trail to the sidewalk. Naturally, I went on a search around the neighborhood to see if anyone recognized this cute little fellow. I finally found someone who had picked up the little guy from the same corner many times. She pointed to the house where I could return him, looking equally as annoyed as I was at the idea that someone would let her dog get loose repeatedly. Well, that’s not really the point of my story today, but let’s just say I returned the dog to a woman who gave me dirty looks as I lectured her for the need to both tag and micro-chip her adorable little dog. Needless to say, I’ll be running down that road a lot more often from now on, just in case.

The second interesting thing about my run today is that it finally dawned on me why I find the break-up of land use in Petaluma fascinating. For those of you who are not familiar with Petaluma, let me try a brief explanation of the landscape. Hwy 101 runs north and south straight through the middle of this town, which has about 60,000 people. The west side is the older side of town. Old houses, more established trees, historic buildings, and of course, the wonderful downtown with the quintessential Main Street vibe. The east side of Petaluma is the newer, more “suburban” side.

Growing up in mid-town Kansas City, I have never been able to stand the suburbs, so I haven’t really been able to put my finger on why I don’t mind it here. I think it’s because the way things are spaced out makes it feel different, like you’re in a hybrid zone. And here’s where the idea of balance comes into play. Running down the trail today, I realized I had open fields to my right, and typical suburban-esque homes (small yards, homes stretched nearly to the fence lines) to my left. Every time I wandered down a street that looked like I would fall straight into Leave it to Beaver, I would find a little (or big) sanctuary of open green space tucked in the middle of the neighborhood. And the best part for a runner is the fabulous running trail that weaves its way through the entire east side of town, connecting all of these wonderful spaces.

So my rather long run today helped me see, literally, why I like Petaluma. I think they’re on to something here. This is not leap-frog development, just good planning. They’ve found a balance between a suburban lifestyle with larger homes and smaller yards, and an open space feel with parks, trails, and open fields. Everything mixed together. For some, it’s the best of both worlds.