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On the Light Side

December 29, 1986

TOMALES, Calif. (AP) _ Jody Foss says she and Sam Brannen got a different perspective on the West Coast, seeing it at 3 1/2 mph from the backs of mules.

Foss, 32, and Brennan, 26, spent seven weeks this fall on their 600-mile mule trip from Klamath Falls, Ore., to their hometown of Tomales, 40 miles north of San Francisco.

″The mules are my vehicle,″ Foss, who has taken mule trips for 10 years and plans to write a book about them, said recently. ″You’re seeing the world at 3 1/2 mph, which is a different perspective.

″It’s not like, ‘Harry, stop the car. This is a great photograph.’ Every time you come around the corner, it’s a different world.″

The couple had a few adventures, including getting dragged 15 feet in the dark by a spooked mule that smelled a bear and inadvertently bedding down next to an encampment of drunken hobos in a park. They also found that their mode of transportation evoked an emotional response in some back-country old- timers.

″These old guys just came out of the blue,″ Foss said. ″The mules were a link to their memories. It was kind of sad because the people wanted to saddle up and go with us.″


SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - The palm tree, shunned during the 1960s and ’70s as too tacky or too glitzy, is making its way back into the designs of architects and planners inspired in part by its elegant symbolism on ″Miami Vice.″

″All of these years, people planted pine trees and sycamores and trees like that,″ says Dennis Chambers, a developer in Sunnyvale. ″Then all of a sudden someone said, ‘Lookit, we’ve got all these palm trees. Let’s use ‘em.’ One guy did it, then another guy did it, and now we’re all doing it. Everybody wants that Southern California flair.″

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, where managers looked down on palms for years, has now decided to set aside land for a palm tree garden. And Patterson, a small city in Stanislaus County, planted 400 new palm trees this year.

″They make a grand statement,″ said Ralph Qualls, director of project management for the San Jose Redevelopment Agency, which planted palms downtown. ″It’s the image we want to project ... nice and stately and elegant.″

″It’s part of the kick that seems to be in right now, part of the ‘Miami Vice’ thing,″ agreed Dale Motiska, who runs a nursery in Santa Rosa that sells palms exclusively.

″I get calls from New York City from people who want to plant palms in atriums in big buildings,″ said Jim Mintken of Forestville, a vintner and member of the Lawrence, Kan.-based International Palm Society.

″It’s the image,″ Mintken said recently. ″They are nice, clean trees with no falling leaves. There is a message to this. The message is modern. The message is California.″


DETROIT (AP) - Michigan has adopted the black bear as a symbol of its 150th birthday celebration, snubbing its official mascot because there’s no proof the wolverine ever roamed The Wolverine State.

The Michigan Sesquicentennial Committee originally wanted to honor the wolverine, said Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen, a wildlife illustrator who designed a logo illustration of the bear.

But the committee’s research found no evidence the stocky, ferocious fur- bearing mammal found in Canada and the northern United States ever lived in Michigan forests, he said.

″There is no wolverine in Michigan,″ van Frankenhuyzen said Sunday in a telephone interview from Lansing. ″It’s a mistake. They decided to do something cute and cuddly, so they decided on the black bear.″

The sitting cub designed by Frankenhuyzen, art director for the state Department of Natural Resources Magazine, will be featured on jewelry, T- shirts and other items sold in commemoration of the birthday.

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