Kathleen Alcalá

The Clueless Eater

An anchor

November 17, 2017

Tags: trees, anchor tree, cultivar, madrone, Doug fir, exposure to nature, Amazon, Bainbridge

Trees on our property
This is the northwest corner of our property, facing south.

On the far left is a cedar cultivar we planted after a hundred-foot Douglas fir fell during a windstorm, its roots weakened by laminated root rot. We were lucky that it missed the house when it fell, and a neighbor volunteered to cut it up and haul it away for firewood.

Over the next couple of years, a madrone that had been intimately involved with the Doug fir slowly died, having been partially uprooted in the fall. It never quite recovered. We had to remove it, too, and now salal has spread to occupy the space and light once occupied by those two trees. The cultivar will never get as tall as the Doug fir, but it promises to fill out and provide screening from the street.

West of the salal is a younger madrone, leaning for the light, (more…)

The Earth is Flat

April 7, 2017

Tags: trees, sustainability, development, Sound to Olympics Trail, Bainbridge Island

Breaking Ground on the Sound to Olympics Trail
The Earth is Flat

It seemed like a good idea at the time. A non-motorized trail that would run all the way from the ferry terminal to the Olympic Peninsula, providing a safe way for bicyclists, wheelchairs, and pedestrians to get closer to the ground. Wilderness would be accessible to all, and cars would be kept in their place. I supported it. I thought it would maintain a green corridor through the middle of the island.

This was a case of “be careful what you wish for.” (more…)

Hope for Trees

March 10, 2014

Tags: trees, Bainbridge Island, sustainability, development, tree ordinance, future

A tree was saved today.
A miracle might have occurred today. People who have worked in opposition for years were smiling and agreeing on something. Solutions were suggested and accepted. A tree was saved.

After years of e-mails, public meetings, and tense confrontations on the street, and a final sit-down meeting at City Hall, the city agreed to spare the lone tree on Cave Avenue that straddles the edge of the city right-of-way for a sidewalk. The sidewalk will bump out four inches into the street to maintain the four-foot width required in order to meet ADA standards.

What’s more, as the work began, the developer asked for his arch-nemesis, renowned arborist Olaf Ribeiro, to come out and consult on how to handle boles found at the base of the tree. They can be safely flattened, he said, using a diamond saw for a smooth cut. The one-hundred year old tree probably formed the boles in reaction to the street first being paved sometime in the 1970s.

Four inches of gravel now wind along a path between (more…)

A Walk in the Park

July 10, 2013

Tags: Bloedel Reserve, trees, nature, Bloedel, gardens, timber barons, Bainbridge

The Bloedels saw nature as something too strong and rough to be experienced without the filter of a human sensibility
In the cool of a day predicted to get very hot, we walked through a gentle forest. Birds called and squirrels chittered at the small groups of visitors strolling carefully groomed paths.

The Bloedel Reserve was started in 1950 by Prentice Bloedel, son of timber baron Julius Harold Bloedel. Julius made a fortune harvesting (more…)

Some Trees

June 5, 2013

Tags: Turkey, trees, Bainbridge, protest, standing there, woman in red, E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

A Douglas Fir in my neighborhood.
It all started with a few trees, a very few trees, but some of the last in the heart of the city. Protesters tried to block demolition of the little park, only to be met with violence.

These are not tree-huggers in California, or other occupants of the “landof the free,” who might seem to have too much time on their hands. These are people who live in Turkey, (more…)
With Cowichan Elder Hyamiciate, Della (Rice) Sylvester at the The Living Breath of wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ Indigenous Foods and Ecological Knowledge Symposium

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Selected Works

Creative nonfiction, memoir, environmental sustainability.
Combining memoir, historical records, and a blueprint for sustainability, The Deepest Roots shows us how an island population can mature into responsible food stewards and reminds us that innovation, adaptation, diversity, and common sense will help us make wise decisions about our future. And along the way, we learn how food is intertwined with our present but offers a path to a better understanding of the future.
Creative Nonfiction
Essays on Family and Writing

The Desert Remembers My Name makes an important contribution to discussions of ethnicity, identity, and the literature of place.”
Bloomsbury Review
Fiction
"...a mesmerizing tale... the author explores the fascinating confusions and contradictions plaguing a culture precariously poised between tradition and modernization."
Booklist
"She never forgot the power of storytelling as testimony."
The Utne Reader
"Kathleen Alcalá's Spirits of the Ordinary is an enthralling book..."
–Paul Yamazaki, City Lights Books

"This book entered my dreams."
–Alberto Rios
Short Fiction
"Thoroughly satisfying."
The New York Times Book Review

"By turns touching, entertaining, and surprising, and uniquely her own."
Publishers Weekly

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