Ellen Steen

Ellen Steen

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A salute today to Fencepost writer extraordinaire, the late Barbara Bennett. Yesterday would have been Barbara’s 89th birthday. She passed away in the spring of 2019. Barbara was the matriarch of Cape Meares, the heart and soul of our community, quietly serving as the mistress of the old schoolhouse building and our social reporter. She wrote the Cape Meares Fencepost column for more than 30 years. We all miss Barbara!

If you want to have fun, put Kathy Burke in charge. Kathy came up with the idea for a “pandemic potluck” among three households: hers and Kevin’s, BJ Byron’s, and Sue and Jack Drahfal’s. Here’s how it works: One person prepares a main dish and the other two make side dishes or desserts. The person in charge of the main dish delivers portions of that dish to the other two households and picks up their offerings to distribute as well. Once home, everyone joins in on Zoom and eats the meal at the same time. So far, the group has had two potlucks. The first week’s dinner featured yummy chicken pot pies, a green salad, and pineapple upside-down cake. The second week consisted of delicious smoked chicken, a tossed salad, and oven-roasted potatoes and green beans. What a great way to socialize safely in a pandemic!

Many thanks to Tillamook Public Works for leaving a small pile of gravel in front of the Barbara Bennet Community Center for Cape Meares residents to fill potholes on their streets. Neighbors brought buckets and shovels and that pile disappeared fast. It’s not cold or hot patches, but it might help see us through the winter.

I spotted an odd-colored lump ahead of us in the sand on a recent beach walk. When we got up to the gnarled, beige object, which was about 10 inches in diameter and a foot long, my husband said, “That’s a man-in-the-ground.” Pete knows his natural science, so I trusted him on this—but looked up additional details at home. Yes, indeed, the large object was manroot (Marah oreganus), the root of a wild cucumber plant. The fruit has a very bitter flavor and is poisonous to eat. Native Americans used this plant for medicinal purposes, mashing the upper stalk in water to make a mixture for bathing sore hands. Manroot, also called bigroot, can grow a root up to two feet long, and its vine can grow up to 20 feet long. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen man-in-the-ground on the beach, but it’s certainly an uncommon sight.

Good news now and better news soon! Some of your Cape Meares neighbors received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine last week at a mass vaccination clinic held at the Tillamook County Fairgrounds. More individuals will be inoculated this week. Knowing that we have a lot of seniors in our community, we can expect numerous others will qualify for the shot in coming weeks. Hallelujah! If you aren’t scheduled yet, call the Tillamook Public Health department 503-842-3914 to check on your eligibility and vaccine availability.

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