Sizzling in Paradise
By Gretchen Lieff   |   September 17, 2020

The Heat Wave On Labor Day we awoke from a restless night with hopes that temperatures would drop from record triple digits. A blood red sun cast an eerie glow over the Montecito hills. California and the west was on fire. The sweltering heat wave in Santa Barbara County was an ominous backdrop. That Sunday […]

Giving a Hoot
By Gretchen Lieff   |   August 13, 2020

Owls have long lived in my most favorite category. Their stoic demeanor. Their wisdom. The intensity of the screech owl’s screech, the trills and lonely melodic resonance of the great horned owl’s “hoot hoots,” and the barn owl’s hissing rasp. Twice this week the California Highway Patrol rescued owls hit by a car along Highway […]

Bandit, Ann, and Abe
By Gretchen Lieff   |   August 6, 2020

When you’ve been quarantined for weeks and a tree falls on your house, at least you’ve got your friends, and your dog Ferocious winds tore through Montecito that night, leaving a wake of damage and power outages. Forecasters blamed a strengthening ridge of high pressure and weak offshore gradients for producing the scary and destructive […]

A Mighty Force
By Gretchen Lieff   |   July 30, 2020

Missing. The anguish never goes away. Missing something or someone, it’s one of the great common denominators. No matter who you are or what you have, such deep loss is irretrievable. Nineteen months ago my beloved border collie dogs, eight-year-old Daisy and her one-year-old puppy companion Diesel, disappeared from my ranch in rural San Luis […]

Sheryl Crow
By Gretchen Lieff   |   July 2, 2020

I was a “Secret Garden” … “Green Mansions” kind of child. Deep forests, bright brooks, wide fields, and ocean waves beckoned my young exuberance. On the seldom occasions that an adult might be missing me, I would be found deep in the forest, grabbing minnows and crayfish from a tiny creek under the redwoods, or […]

Duck Duck Two
By Gretchen Lieff   |   May 28, 2020

In last week’s Journal you’ll recall “ducknappers” had snatched a nest with a mamma duck, three ducklings, and seven eggs from under an oak tree at Montecito’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church parking lot. Our “Duck Column” describing the story had “gone viral” as pressure mounted to “find the ducks.” It’s been an exhausting […]

The Great Montecito Duck Caper
By Gretchen Lieff   |   May 21, 2020

Monday morning… animal rescue phones at the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network ring endlessly. Breathless callers trying to save a wild life, Samaritans rush in babies of all shapes and sizes; fawns from the Gaviota Fire, Red tail fledglings, bunnies and squirrels and pelicans and racoons and hummingbirds and on and on and on… Cars […]

A Life to Remember
By Gretchen Lieff   |   May 14, 2020

A Lesson in Loss It’s important to tell those we love how much they mean to us – don’t wait. It was another death along the train tracks in Montecito as we waited anxiously for further details and circumstances. Then we heard it was a local hair stylist. That was upsetting. And then the unfathomable […]

A Man and His Dog
By Gretchen Lieff   |   April 30, 2020

In the Times of Dis-Ease I am generally described as a cheerful person who tends toward optimism. But lately I find myself lingering over any mention of grief or fear or loss. Rather than turning away and protecting myself… I find that I am, in the face of this pandemic, turning toward the dark, unpleasant […]