Culture, science and a moonlit hike
Parks aim for more cultural relevance
When the waxing moon peered through the haze above at Santa Teresa County Park after days of hiding behind rainclouds, a tide of humanity began arriving as if pulled ashore by lunar gravity.
Santa Clara County Parks interpreter Kelsi Ju was there to greet the flashlight-bearing arrivals at historic Gulnac-Bernal-Joice Ranch.
They had come for a little culture, a little science and a moonlit hike that included a break for hot tea and a hillside view of the lights of South San Jose.
Ju had been expecting just a handful or two of people. But happily, more than 60 came — young, old, multiethnic — for an event that was successfully designed to attract a more diverse group than interpretive talks traditionally have drawn.
“We had our expectations far exceeded,” she said. “It was amazing.”
This was just the latest in the Parks Department’s determined efforts to expand its audience. For example, Ju is also putting together a pair of events aimed at LGBTQ people and their supporters.
Year of the Pig
The lunar event occurred a couple of weeks before the official Feb. 5 beginning of the weeklong Chinese Lunar New Year, marking the arrival of the Year of the Pig. The cultural aspect of the evening mostly involved the group learning how to make colorful Chinese lanterns out of construction paper. Chinese lanterns are a staple feature on which people write their hopes for the new year.
One hoped to climb to the base camp on Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak. Another beseeched the gods for world peace.
Ju drew a chuckle when she contrasted the Western New Year’s tradition of making resolutions with the Chinese tradition. Whereas in the West, people have only themselves to blame as their resolutions fall by the wayside, the Chinese can blame the failure of their good intentions on the gods.
A moonlit hike
To end the evening, the attendees headed off on a moonlit hike. The lanterns, many illuminated from inside with flashlights, cast a charming, bouncy glow into the gnarled oak branches as the procession made its way along the trail. A chorus of frogs accompanied the hikers.
Ju kicked off the night by guiding a participatory demonstration of the gravitational interplay of earth, moon and sun. Participants learned about the science behind the total eclipse of the “super blood wolf moon” occurring two nights later.
Although the moon wasn’t quite full, people seemed to have a howling good time.