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Ohlone Day, a local treasure…once you find it!

I wasn’t sure what to expect of Ohlone Day. I’d heard lots of people say nice things about it, but the publicity for it was lackluster, and the event-day signage was non-existent. So there we were, eager six-year-old and I, trying to find the parking lot that the salesperson in the store at Henry Cowell State Park said we’d see before we found Ohlone Day.

Luckily, some newly made friends helped us find the way.

So much for the State Parks getting their act together in the “revenue generation” part of their job!

Nevertheless, we persevered, and finally did find Ohlone Day, down a path that looked like it was going into the woods, but ended up at a parking lot, as promised, behind which was Ohlone Day.

And as promised, it was fun!

The six-year-old has gotten into bows and arrows, and thus into Robin Hood (which Daddy is reading to her, excising the anti-Semitic parts, explaining the antiquated language, and cringing at the mindless violence). In turn, Robin Hood is feeding new interest into bows, arrows, shooting, and hitting. The killing part doesn’t seem to be a big part of the fascination. Just the shooting and hitting part.

The six-year-old’s arrows are made of flexible stems taken from my begonia flowers (I just realized that, and realized what damage is being done to my poor begonias while I have been inattentive!), with triangles of paper attached to the ends.

No one’s getting killed, but a few have been hit by her arrows, which she tosses off her bow with glee.

Frankly, the six-year-old would probably like any day that included the sorts of things that Ohlone Day included:

Mat making with real dried tule reeds

Ohlone mat

Fire-making taught by a real live fire maker (not Ohlone, but you can’t have everything, right?)

Ohlone fire making

And popsicles. Don’t forget the popsicles.

Advance notice being what it was, I brought our picnic, not knowing what Ohlone Day would entail. It does, in fact, include lunch: though the Day is free, the lunch is not. But we did get free malt-o-meal, prepared by an Ohlone Day participant (not Ohlone) in the almost traditional Ohlone way. Because they didn’t have any cooking vessels that didn’t burn, they devised a pretty nifty way of cooking: They heated up rocks then put them into a waterproof basket with water and whatever they were cooking. The heated up rocks heated the food.

Our non-Ohlone cooking instructor informed us that she uses Malt-o-meal because the traditional acorn flour is “pretty bitter” — “nothing you’d eat unless you had to.”

She compared it to poi, which is what you get at traditional Hawaiian festivals. People taste it, just to say they did. Modern Hawaiians have a few more choices.

The six-year-old also enjoyed the various Ohlone games that were being held. In one, a ring was rolled in front of the participant and she tried to throw a spear through the ring. In another, the participants were given spear-throwers and tried to hit straw bale targets. The kids fell far short of the targets, but a buff young man who had assisted with the fire-making threw his spears well pass the targets and then had to trot off into the woods to find them.

It was a fun day, and definitely worth the effort to find it. But I hope the organizers do a bit better at letting people know where it is. Though it was pretty crowded when we left, I was surprised that so many people had found it. Perhaps they, also, met friends in the woods to show them the way.

Posted in Culture, Education.


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