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By Laura Stec

Picnic Pleasures

Uploaded: Mar 31, 2016

The pleasure of a picnic lies somewhere between genteel society and raw nature. Pepper-crusted salmon, watermelon radish and Humboldt Fog dot plaid blankets laid a top warm, steamy earth. Connecting to the free and natural around us, awareness deepens and laughs ring more robust. Winds steal napkins and societal politeness, so we lick meat juice off our fingers, and wipe oil from lips with shoulders and shirt. Who cares? We are eating outside and wild again, if only for a moment, or maybe just a meal.

Picnic-perfect Martin’s Beach, the still-gated cove south of Half Moon Bay is back in the news. We continue to Food Party! about this. Happy to report vulture capitalist Vinod Khosla lost another of his greedy court battles, this time claiming he “owned the land under the ocean, and therefore, had no legal requirement to reopen the road/beach to the public.” ZAM! WACK-ETH! Darth Vader, even your attorney conceded the issue last week before California appellate judges, in one of the two remaining lawsuits seeking to open the gate you closed in 2010 and restore public access to the beach.

Khosla may be public picnic prude #1, but precedence shows folks who owned the land before him were not. Evidence A: the 1900 photo below, sent in by Food Partier! Margaret Owen Thorpe, of St. Paul Minnesota. It was taken by her great grand uncle, Nicholas Martin, a cattle /sheep rancher who originally settled the property around 1860.

I was so touched she emailed it in and gave her a call.

“These people liked to party” said Owen Thorpe. “I have a number of pictures of them picnicking, even one in the middle of a railroad track! In every picture of Nicholas, he looks like such a nice person. My father said everyone loved Uncle Nick. But they wouldn’t have liked Mr Khosla.”

- Nicholas Martin

Ratts, my notes go blank here… Ackk...why wouldn’t they have liked him? I can’t remember. She continues…

“Hats – the ladies always wore those hats. My grandmother, Belle Martin, made my aunt Maida (born 1908) wear a hat so she wouldn’t tan. They needed to show they were ladies.”

After Nicholas Martin died in early 1910, his daughters sold the property to the Deeny family between 1910 – 1915. The Deenys built the many rental cabins on the ocean-facing hills, and charged a small entrance fee to maintain the road and beach, solidifying this popular picnic paradise for more than 50 years. In 2008, they sold the property to Khosla for $32.5 million, and two years later, he closed the road to the public (still paying $11,250 a day in fines for the right to do so).

So now when I visit this gorgeous beach, I keep the time-honored tradition alive, packing boogie board and picnic basket, and I hope you will too. Park just off Highway 1, hop over, or walk around, the gate. It says private property, but county law enforcement does not ticket. Saunter to the beach. Blanket goes down, senses go up. Smile at the drone that might hover, like it did around us the last time we were there (that was weird). Better yet growl at it, and then howl at the ocean.

You are wild again.

Albeit my ladies, please don’t forget your hat.

Local Flavor

Shop Wednesday, April 6
At Whole Foods Market Northern CA and Reno, 5% of your purchase this day will support CAFF (Community Alliance with Family Farmers) and local produce in schools. CAFF is a superb nonprofit in our community building sustainable food and farming systems through policy advocacy and on- the-ground programs that create more resilient family farms, communities and ecosystems.