Thursday, May 31, 2012

Three Seasons in Two Hours

Don't you just love this time of year? The days are so long. It's light at 5 a.m., so it seems like, OK, it's time to get up, even for an early riser like me. Time for dinner already? You must be kidding... it's still mid-afternoon! My wife and I really enjoy our walks before work and now that it stays light so long, we sneak in a sunset stroll well after dinner. It's good for the digestion, don't ya know! One really neat thing that occurs for only a few short weeks this time of year: you can actually be in three different seasons, all within a two hour drive. Let me explain. Today it's 95 in Redding, probably pretty close to that in Red Bluff and Chico too. The grass is bone dry and it's just plain hot. I'm starting to see the typical roadside burn patches from discarded cigarettes along I-5. Never happens in winter or spring, right? In the North Valley, it's summer. But hop in the car and head up the hill. Could be 44 east out of Redding, 36 east out of Red Bluff, or even 32 east out of Chico. By the time you get to Shingletown on 44, Mineral on 36 or Potato Patch Campground on 32, you're back in Spring! The grass is green and lush, pink wild peas are bustin' out, and the cows are happily grazing in mountain meadows, already having been moooved up from the hot valley. Snow-fed creeks are running fast and cold. Keep on truckin' up the hill and you'll soon find yourself in Lassen Volcanic National Park, one of the least visited but most interesting of them all. Last week you couldn't even drive through the park: too much snow and ice. They say it'll be open this weekend, but I would call ahead to be sure. Who wants to get stuck at Bumpass Hell? I can guarantee you, families with little kids will be sliding on wet butts down snow packs with gleeful shouts. Some of those "kids" look a lot like grownups to me. So there you have it, traverse through three seasons of the year in only a two hour drive. You just have to feel pretty doggone lucky to live here. Like the black lady shouted to her friend outside the grocery store this morning: "Hey Baby, Have a great day and a wonderful life." Couldn't have said it any better myself! Tom Knight, Broker MANTON REALTY May 31, 2012

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cinco de Mayo in Manton: "Cinco de Wino" Celebrations

Today is May 5th, remembered in Mexico as the day, exactly 150 years ago today, that a small band of soldiers from the Mexican army defeated a much larger group of French soldiers in the city of Puebla, about 80 miles southeast of Mexico City. It's a "David versus Goliath" story, a demonstration of the lesson that "even though outnumbered, if your heart is pure and your cause is just, you can triumph over evil." In Puebla today there will be many celebrations of this auspicious sesquincentennial including bullfights, mole poblano cook-offs, an international music festival and a grand parade featuring Mexican President Felipe Calderon. After dark the fireworks and carnivals will continue well into the night.

In the United States, the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 70s built up interest in this holiday as a way to encourage cultural pride in the Latino community. Soon thereafter is was co-opted by major alcoholic beverage producers as a way to sell more tequila, margaritas and cervaza, particularly to college students. Since then it has morphed into a major drinking holiday thoughout America, though much less so in Mexico. The name has even been modified to acknowledge more accurately the purpose, frequently referred to now as "Drinko de Mayo."

In our little community of Manton, several small family-owned and operated wineries have come up with the idea of "Cinco de Wino," as an opportunity to draw visitors to Manton to sample the outstanding award-winning wine produced here, now known as the "Manton Volcanic Wine Country."
To further promote visits to the area, a firm was hired to create a "brand" for all of Tehama County. "Reach Your Peak" is the slogan which captures enthusiasm for the area so recognized by the prominant shape of gorgeous snow-covered Lassen Peak and the many opportunities for recreation available. The catchy phrase applied to visiting our foothill town: "Come to Manton for An Altitude Adjustment." That's pretty cute, don't you think? And it's really true. You are likley to enjoy yourself here with the beautiful views, fresh mountain air and fine wines from local vineyards.

Manton wineries are all situated along Forward Road which begins at the historic Manton Corners Store and Saloon. You can't miss it. Heading up the hill on Forward Road, past the school, church and Grange Hall, the first tasting room on the right is Indian Peak Vineyards, open this weekend from 11 to 5. Fred and Donna will be providing complimentary Mexican food. There is also a special benefit Mexican dinner to raise money for Relay for Life, served at the Grange Hall next door from noon to 7 p.m. Alger Vineyards is next, on your left, 31636 Forward Road. John and Linda will also be providing Mexican appetizers to go with their excllent wine in the upstairs Tasting Room, definitely a room with a view and a lot of good vibes. Ringtail Vineyards is up the hill on Forward Road, where you will find local art, great food and big discounts on wine. This is definitely a "party place." On Sunday the added attraction will be horse drawn carriage rides.

All the wineries have prominant signs, so you just can't miss any of them as you travel along Forward Road. Cedar Crest Vineyards is hosted by Jim and Corey Livingston, my good neighbors, who will be featuring Chef Mark's famous San Felipe tacos which pair nicely with the fine wines Jim makes. From there it is a bit of a drive east on Forward Road to access Shasta Daisy Vineyards, hosted by Lorna Knedler, a member of the Forward family, and her husband Carroll. The drive is well worth the effort. Their gorgeous location and exceptional hospitality will be your reward. This weekend they feature local arts & crafts and food. Trust me, once you're there, you won't want to leave.

Have an enjoyable "Cinco de Wino" weekend in Manton and please drive safely.

Tom Knight, Broker
May 5, 2012

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Welcome to Manton Wineries

It's harvest time in the hills and this year the grapes are coming in late. What a great time to visit the small family wineries of Manton and share in the excitement of the season! The redbud and black oaks are beginning to turn color and there's an evening chill in the air. This is a wonderful time of year for touring a few tasting rooms and sampling the finely crafted wines produced in the volcanic soil of our area. I've noticed a few signs advertising apples too, tart and crisp from local orchards. The owners of Manton wineries are all my friends and believe me, my wife and I really enjoy the local award-winning wines. These wineries are small and friendly. You'll get to talk to the owners in person and get the latest tips on current vintages. I have links to the Manton wineries on my website which is or just click on the links below:, for Fred and Donna Boots, for John and Linda Alger, for Rob Carrillo, for Jim and Corey Livingston, for Carroll and Lorna Knedler

These are some of the nicest folks you could ever hope to meet and the wines of Manton are truly superior. Enjoy the harvest season at our Manton wineries!

Tom Knight, Broker

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Tale of Two Squirrels

When it comes to weather, I'm a junkie. Even the music on the weather channel is appealing. It's very soothing in between the segments on tornados and severe thunderstorms. Weather is a common topic of discussion down at the Diner, especially this time of year. People are edgy. It's hot and dry. The afternoon winds blow strongly as the seasons change from Summer to Fall. Our worst wildfires take place in August and September. We all hope to just make safely through these days until the first rains arrive, usually around Halloween. Winter sounds attractive, and discussions sometimes focus on the Farmer's Almanac and what we can expect.
The squirrels know something about the weather. I learned that last year. They had the uncanny ability to foretell a huge winter. Something unusual happened which I did not understand at the time. The gray tree squirrels absolutely shredded the pine cones on the large Ponderosa which borders our patio. Never happened before. The debris littered the ground and was so deep I had to use a snow shovel and my largest wheelbarrow to remove it. Then it came... the biggest snowfall in years. One measure of winter's fury is how long it takes for the park service to open the loop road through Lassen Park. Quite often it is open by Memorial Day. This year: not until after the 4th of July! Was it just coincidence, or do the squirrels somehow know what's coming in the weather department? I'll take the squirrels over the Farmer's Almanac. Not just any squirrels, mind you, just the gray ones with white bellies that fly through the trees with the greatest of ease.
Then there are the other squirrels in Manton, the dumb ones, called ground squirrels. Their highest perch is a rock. These daredevil fools invariably wait along the side of the road until the very last minute as you approach, then dart in front of your car at the last second when there isn't a chance in hell you can avoid hitting them. Squirrel carcasses litter the road from Dale's Corner to the Manton Post Office. What are they thinking? Maybe it's a sport. If so, it's CARS: 1,756, SQUIRRELS: 3. One thing you can be sure of when you see all those ground squirrels: there are rattlesnakes nearby. Nests of baby ground squirrels are the gourmet ghetto for rattlers. I'll pontificate on that topic in another blog. Suffice it to say, lightning's much more likely to get you.
It seems to me, judging by the pinecone shredding operation now underway, we are in for another big winter. But before it arrives, there is one big party in town about to take place. It's by far the biggest event of the year in our small community, the annual MANTON APPLE FESTIVAL. Always the first Saturday in October, this year it is October 1st. If you like homemade apple pie a la mode as much as I do, perhaps I'll see you there. Wonderful local crafts will be available for purchase and live music to entertain you. It's free admission and revenue generated from the event goes to pay for scholarships at the Manton School. Come join in the fun.
Tom Knight, Broker

Monday, September 12, 2011

Grass or Squaw Carpet?

I was chopping some humongous poison oak the other day. You know what I'm talking about: an inch in diameter with twenty foot long runners intertwined through a trellis of dead manzanita. Industrial strength poison oak! My wife says "Buy the poison spray and don't come in the house... ever!" Fortunately we have a secluded residence, so I can disrobe outside and drop every stitch of clothing in the washing machine on the way to the shower. So far, that routine has worked out pretty well. Just a tip: it's a good idea to leave the boots and gloves outside.

When engaged in such enjoyment of our property I think about the land we own, all fifteen acres of it, a veritable lifetime of potential cost-free aerobic exercise, and I ponder larger questions. Why join a gym when I have yards of poison oak, or possibly even miles of it? I am amazed by some of my neighbors and dearest friends, no names mentioned here, who have expansive tracts of beautifully watered, mowed and manicured green grass lawns. Boy, that sure looks terrific. But wait... we're not in the city any more, we're many miles out in the country. Isn't a lawn a city thing?

I've had my fill of mowing and have the scars to prove it, ten stitches at a time to remove basal cell carcinomas my dermatolgist says are from years of mowing grass with my shirt off. Hey, I was once young, strong and stupid... why not mow without a shirt? Now I know why. I'm older now, less strong, and hopefully a little less dumb, so I'll take the poison oak and wear a shirt rather than the grass with no shirt.

My thoughts wander thus as I do mindless physical labor. It's such a luxury to just let them go that way, unchanneled, unobstructed, unfenced, undisciplined... free to roam. I thought of my art school days, a beginning sculpture class where we learned the two basic approaches to creating sculpture: additive or subtractive. Never good at math, I still was able to grasp it. Additive is when you get a lump of clay and keep adding more lumps until you arrive at an object of recognizable beauty. Subtractive is like Michelangelo taking a cube of Carrara marble and chiseling away until a David emerges.

I realized that my approach to land management falls into that latter category: subtractive. I tried the additive method once... planted 2,500 pine seedlings. All but 50 died in the first dry winter. Subtractive methodology is a lot more fun. You just look at what you've already got and remove what you don't like. However, I am finding that's more easily said than done.

In my case, I have discovered amidst the tangled jungle of poison oak and manzanita some interesting and, to my mind, more desirable plants such as redbud and lilac. Western redbud is indigenous to our California foothills and a tough survivor. It has heart-shaped leaves with a pleasant blue-green color in the summer. In the fall the leaves present a panoply of autumn color, from copper hues to crimson. I always relish the drive on Wildcat Road just along the western edge of Black Butte Cinder Cone... such a spectacle of nature's palette where the redbud abounds. It is equally showy in the spring, before the leaves appear, when redbud becomes a fountain of pink to violet blossums, usually around Easter time. So I set out to liberate my redbud... performing subtractive sculpture.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to eliminate all the poison oak and manzanita from fifteen acres of land. I like a little exercise. I'm not a gluton for punishment. Besides, I've come to realize by observation that some critters in the forest actually eat manzanita berries. Not sure if anyone eats poison oak. But I like the foxes, coyotes and other creatures who call our place home. And I have to admit, poison oak in the fall can also put on a spectacular color show. Older manzanita often is spectacular as well, the shiny twisted trunks resemble red ebony free form sculpture. I just want to have some redbud and lilac along my driveway. It's already there, so I'm just encouraging it by removing the competition.

As for squaw carpet... probably never heard of it, right? It's a low-growing evergreen ground cover prevalent at our foothill elevation, between 2,500 and 3,000 feet. In the spring it erupts in a carpet of lavender blossums which transform the forest floor for a few weeks. My wife's step-dad says the Native Americans who lived here for thousands of years used this ground cover as a portable playpen. A blanket or animal skin was placed down on the squaw carpet, the baby set on top of that, while the mother went off to gather berries. Squaw carpet has very prickly leaves, so when the infant crawler approached the edge of the blanket, it would venture no further. A perfect mobile playpen. Clever.

Perhaps this was a case of something subtractive having an additive value!

Tom Knight, Broker

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Country Comfort

Followers of my blog, I appreciate YOU! As you know, I prefer to write about the wonderful events in our little community and the very interesting people who live here. I hope you will allow this blog about my current listing called "Country Comfort." You'll see why if you care to continue reading.

Situated on forty very private acres, this spacious 2,450 square foot home is truly designed with convenience and comfort in mind. Not a cookie-cutter tract house, the single story floor plan was carefully designed by collaboration of the owners, Ken and Tina Haws, and the local builder of custom homes, Barry Zimmerman. Built in 2005 this three bedroom, two full bath home has the latest features such as tankless hot water system, central vac, and dual heating. The high ceilings with recessed lights accentuate the drama of the central living area. Fifty miles distant, the snow-covered Yolla Bolly coast range mountains sparkle in the morning sun, framed by the gracefully arched west-facing windows of the living and dining rooms.

An entire paragraph could be written about the kitchen. This one probably has more cabinets than you've ever seen in a kitchen and they are beautiful alder with a cherry stain. A central cooking island adds even more counter space in this working country kitchen, and with two ovens you can easily manage a large turkey and several pies at the same time for Thanksgiving. There is even an appliance garage, something I have never heard of before, and of course a wine storage cabinet convenient to the formal dining room. The window over the sink looks east through the blue oaks, welcoming the morning sun at breakfast time.

Looking for a home with a private master suite? The split bedroom floor plan provides the ultimate privacy for this spacious master. As you would expect, a large walk-in closet is nicely situated opposite the master bath which features a separate shower and jacuzzi tub. Soak in comfort as you gaze out the window through the oaks towards Shingletown Ridge. It's totally private, not another house in sight.

One of the great ideas for a country house, especially one with horses such as this one, is a mud room. This one even has a sink. While most mud rooms are just large enough for a coat rack and a bench to remove crusty boots, this one is so large it has morfed into a family room frequented by the Haws family grandchildren. The perfect play area totally enclosed by north and west-facing windows, it's light and bright. The cement floor is indestructable for those vigorous kid activities.

The laundry room has a nice window over the folding counter letting in plenty of natural light. This room also serves as a pantry and has an amazing amount of storage space with floor to ceiling cabinets on both walls. You can fill up the truck or van at Costco... you'll not be able to fill up all these cabinets. And for the gardener and home canner, there is ample room for all those home-canned goodies you put up at harvest time. The fenced garden area already has several fruit trees.

A small ranch needs a workshop, and this one includes a half bath in the spacious 900 square foot double door garage. Bring all your tools and your big pick-up truck. It all fits nicely in this beautiful garage/workshop, attached to the main house by a covered walkway.

The well is protected by an attractive pump house. There is also a large covered area for the storage of tractors, a wood splitter, rider mower, four-wheeler and other ranch equipment. You'll never need to buy firewood. This forty acre ranch has gently rolling grasslands punctuated by dozens of blue oaks which burn long and hot. The house does have central heat powered by propane if you prefer, but nothing beats the warmth of a wood fire. The wood stove in the living room is designed with an enclosed wood storage area for convenience.

Every ranch needs a barbecue set-up, and this one is sweet. Very well situated on the west side of the house to enjoy the panoramic views, this outdoor patio is spacious and comfortable with a large picnic table and lots of lounge chairs. Those warm July evenings will soon be upon us, so put that beer on ice and fire up the barbie! This is the place to really enjoy the property. While you're grilling, the kids can play on the tire swing or try out the hammock strung between two oaks.

Horses? This ranch has a couple. The pastures are fenced and cross-fenced, so rotating the critters to the area with the greenest grass is a piece of cake. The dirt trails and unpaved roads in this area make riding a pleasure. It's a rural area with few other houses and spectacular views in all directions.

Bottom line: This private ranch and custom home, only two miles from the Manton store, school, post office and diner, is the perfect place to discover your own "country comfort." Check it out online by clicking on the "my listings" tab at or better yet, arrange for your own private tour of the property by contacting the gracious owners Ken and Tina Haws. They'll be happy to show you around. To make an appointment, just call them at (530) 474-3653. Welcome to Manton Volcanic Wine Country! Oh, I almost forgot... priced to sell quickly at $599,000.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Goodbye Bruce Barron, Creator of Waterwheel Park

Just a hand-written note hastily written was thumbtacked to the Manton Post Office bulletin board, "Bruce Barron Has Died; Services Pending." When I returned to my Cedar Ridge Road home with the mail, as I stepped out of the car I heard that distinct but faint call of honkers high in the sky. The white puffy clouds were racing north with an approaching storm and I squinted, searching for the source of the sound. Then I saw one V-shaped string, high, high above, just little specks riding that fast-moving jet stream straight as an arrow to the north country and home. That must have been Bruce calling out his Farewell to Manton, I thought quietly to myself.

I try to remember when I first met Bruce and saw his marvelous gift to the Manton community, the fabulous oasis called Waterwheel Park. It was in the early '80s when Bruce cooked up a huge kettle of beans for the annual Volunteer Fire Department Barbeque. It was so typical of Bruce, always doing something to support the community. Bruce and his wife Elna took their land which they called Lassen Ox-Shoe Ranch and dedicated a portion of it for a community gathering place, a spot for weddings and Grange picnics, a place to meet your neighbors and sip a cold beer while catching up on local news. No other place in Manton existed for such a thing.

Waterwheel Park was his finest creation. In a beautiful creek bottom with giant sycamores and oaks, Bruce built a waterwheel to capture the energy of falling water to turn the spit on which he roasted meat for the hungry hordes. There was cookhouse and picnic tables, a covered bridge adorned with horseshoes and Bruce's welded whimsical creations for entertainment. Fiddle and guitar often would accompany barbecued beef and beans at so many community and fraternal gatherings. Bruce built community and loved doing so.

The plaque which commemorates Waterwheel Park states it best: "Bruce and Elna Barron established the Waterwheel Park in 1961 to serve in conjuction with the Manton Frontier Days Rodeo and Barbeque. Launched by Beef, Beans and Cowboys, the Park was designed to preserve our Western Heritage and pay homage to the memory of our Native Americans and early California Pioneers. May People in future generations continue to appreciate the beauty and serenity of this bucolic park area and enjoy giving remembrance to those venerable traditions of the Old West." Though now privately owned and only occasionally opened for public events, the memories of good times together will always remain as Bruce's legacy for so many of us.

This short blog could not possibly relate all the many adventures and accomplishments which characterize Bruce's ninety years on this earth. Fortunately for us, Bruce was also a superb raconteur who chronicled many of those entertaining life stories in a book he wrote titled "Fabulous Memories of a Truly Adventurous Life--Short Stories You Will Long Remember." This paperback is rich with tales of local history, cowboys, rodeos, and unexpected and unusual events of yesteryear. It is available at the Manton Museum, a place where you can see a display of twenty different kinds of barbed wire, donated by Bruce. Of course, there is much more to see in the museum. To acquire Bruce's book and see the wonderful displays in the museum, contact the President of the Manton Historical Society, Pat Grag at (530) 474-5219. Bruce was a big supporter of the Historical Society and would certainly have welcomed your support of this local treasure.

In conclusion, again I will quote a few lines of poetry from Bruce's book:

After feeding hungry cows
all those hefty bales of hay
A cowboy saved that wire
Twas a sin to throw it away!

Having extra haywire around
just made a lot of sense
He might be needing it someday
to fix that busted fence.


Oh, alack and alas,
when it's my time to expire,
If a cowboy can be found,
who my widow can hire,

I'll feel safe from the devil
and his eternal fire,
If he'll just seal my tomb
with that old baling wire.

May you rest in peace Bruce, and thanks a million for all the memories. Services will be held at the Allen & Dahl Funeral Chapel in Palo Cedro, Wednesday, March 23rd at 11 a.m. It is located 1/4 mile south of Highway 44, phone (530) 547-4444.