Smith: A mountain lion takes up residence in outer Petaluma

It goes without saying: the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue volunteers and donors who just moved a beautiful young mountain lion into a spacious enclosure wish she could be out in nature, doing what mountain lions are supposed to do.

Now six months old and weighing 40 pounds, this cougar was tiny, sick and presumably orphaned when it was found wandering in Trinity County in April. She’s healthy now, but absent the hunting and survival skills she would have learned from her mother, she can’t be released back to the wild.

So she’ll be a permanent resident of the rescue operation there on a hilltop off Mecham Road, near the main landfill.

Director Doris Duncan and the crew hope the people who come see her will not only marvel but gain a greater appreciation of mountain lions and the need to value and protect them.

There are public tours at the rescue enter every Saturday at 2 p.m. If you’ve never been out there, prepare to be impressed.

And not only by the mountain lion.


GOOD TO MEAT YOU: You may know that on Oct. 27 one of our celebrity chefs, Duskie Estes of Sebastopol’s Zazu, will converse before a Luther Burbank Center audience with chef-author-TV-host Mario Batali.

But who knew how key Batali was to what Duskie and her partner in life and business, John Stewart, have become?

In 2000, the couple was cooking in Seattle and was thrilled to discover Salumi, a teeny tiny restaurant and charcuterie house created at Pioneer Square by Armandino Batali, Mario’s pop.

Recalls Duskie, “I was a vegetarian and went in the first time and asked for a vegetarian sandwich and he (Armandino) wouldn’t make it for me so I had a pork cheek sandwich and took off the pork cheeks and gave them to John.” That left her “a roll with peppers and green sauce.”

Her husband in time summoned the courage to ask the elder Batali to teach him to make salumi, or cured and smoked meats. Batali shook his head and scoffed, “Chefs are too impatient.”

Not too long later, John and Duskie encountered Mario Batali at a Food & Wine Magazine party in Aspen. John told him, in so many words: I love your dad but am bummed that he wouldn’t teach me to cure pork.

The two of them had a drink, maybe two, and Mario told John, come to New York and I’ll show you how to butcher a pig and make salume. Today John and Duskie are nationally renowned as the King and Queen of Pork.

Everyone who takes in the talk at the LBC is no doubt in for a treat.


THE NEW YORK TIMES took note of the play that Bryna Turner, Fort Bragg High Class of 2008, wrote. Its set to debut early next year at the Lincoln Center in Manhattan.

Turner named her first professional play “Bull in a China Shop.” She drew her inspiration for the comedy from letters that partners and champions of education-for-women Mary Woolley and Jeannette Marks exchanged from 1899 to 1937.

Turner, a daughter of Anne Turner and Fort Bragg Mayor Dave Turner, was still working on her MFA in playwriting at Rutgers when she honored one of Mendocino County’s towns farthest from the limelight with “Lights Over Philo.”

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and

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