Friday I took off early with my old kayak (a 12′ Scrambler sit-on-top) and drove up to Drake’s Bay Oyster Company, where I got ready to launch on a trip out to the mouth of Drake’s Estero. A big van pulled up with a couple of kayaks on top, and I started talking to the driver, Seth Harvey. Turns out Seth was taking out a couple of kayakers; he was also the chef of what sounds like a very fine restaurant in Forestville (California) — Backyard — that serves strictly local produce and meat…We started talking about paddling and he told me a guy named Chris Starbird has paddled a Huki super lightweight carbon fiber outrigger canoe from San Francisco out to the Farallon Islands and back in something like five hours. That’s a 64-mile round trip out in the open ocean!
I set out in my little kayak heading for the ocean (about 5 miles), and it moved along surprisingly well, not being a super slick expensive ocean kayak. The wind was blowing a little. A beautiful place, this estero with with multiple nooks and crannies and inlets, birds and seals. As I got maybe half way out to the ocean, the wind started to pick up — it would be blowing against me on the way back — so for once I did the mature thing and turned back. I’ll do it again when the weather is calmer and make it all the way out. When I got back in, I went up to the oyster company to get some oysters for dinner and started talking to Ginny Lundy, the manager, about the tragedy of the Park Service and the group of uber environmentalists shutting down this fine operation. I said to her, here you are producing organic healthy local food with no chemicals, no pesticides, no feeding and actually improving the purity of the water… so that it can be returned to a “wilderness” — which it never was in the first place (the California Indians managed the land before the Europeans showed up — sowing, tilling, pruning, weeding, burning, selective harvesting*). So when the oyster farm is gone, city people will be able to burn nonrenewable fossil fuels and drive out to observe the “wilderness.”
Ginny told me about the family farm, also in The Point Reyes National Seashore: her dad, age 83, runs the farm by himself and raises certified organic calves, doing a rotating cutting of natural grasses to feed his livestock, no feed trucked in from the Valley.
*See Tending the Wild by M. Kat Anderson, about “Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources.” You can order it from Larner Seeds here, cheaper than Amazon.