Over the holiday season I’ve been recharging with Tolkien’s best-loved works, starting with The Hobbit and finishing with the Fellowship of the Ring Trilogy. These adventures through the fictitious Middle Earth have many lessons to teach us about living a fulfilling life. They are fraught with peril and opportunities to overcome obstacles both individually and by working with others. The heroes are committed to their quest and their colleagues. As they battle on toward their goal, they experience beauty, tragedy, triumph, loss, and great friendship. They take many walks through the woods and cross a few rivers. And in the end, they find new peace that is symbolized by flourishing trees and gardens.

I can’t help but see a few parallels between these stories and our work on the San Joaquin River Parkway. As you begin 2019, consider the following ways to include the quest for the San Joaquin River Parkway in your own life adventure.

1.        Travel. 

Take a few hours and walk or bicycle the Lewis S. Eaton Trail along Old Friant Road. Sing a song, count all the different types of birds you see, and smile at everyone you meet. If you have little ones at home, take them along for a visit to the Hidden Homes Trail at the River Center, or the Small Fry Trail at the Friant Fish Hatchery. If you have time for just a short walk, try out the ¼ mile trail upstream of Riverside Golf Course (parking at the corner of W. Alluvial and N. Riverside Drive), or the bluff trail that can be accessed at the intersections of Riverview and Bluff or Bluff and Churchill (parking on the street). When the weather warms up, travel the river by water on a canoe or kayak.

2.        Fight for the Parkway.

You can do some hand-to-hand combat by participating in an upcoming River Stewards volunteer workday and battling invasive weeds with loppers and weed wrenches. Alternatively you can fight for the Parkway by attending public meetings or sending letters of support or opposition regarding land use proposals and Parkway access points. Along the way you’ll have a chance to make friends with other Parkway warriors, and share a meal or a beverage after the battle.

3.        Plant and maintain trees and gardens (for the next generation).

The Parkway is important now, but the work we’re doing will be even more important for future generations. Our community will continue to develop and grow, and our dwindling open space resources will be even more important for physical and mental health. Contribute to a better future for our region – and for students like Eric - by planting trees and other native plants on one of our volunteer workdays, or join our Gardening Angels volunteers as they keep the River Center beautiful for visitors.

As we turn the page on 2018 I am incredibly grateful to be on this Parkway journey with you. Let’s travel a few miles more, and celebrate along the way with food, drink, and song.

Happy New Year! 

Sharon Weaver
Executive Director
Pictured here with Aladdin and Holly