Some things you just have to do.

Like when you’ve been digging holes in the yard and your back tells you to sit down.

Or when you hear that Phil Wimer’s band is playing at the clubhouse and you notice that you’re already wearing your dancing shoes.

Royal Calkins

Or most recently when you stumble onto a request for volunteers to help with Native Plants Live Here’s Fall Plant Sale. 

I felt compelled to raise my hand because I’m new here and don’t know most of my neighbors. And I like plants, especially the kind that belong, and because I figured, correctly, that the other folks who felt compelled to participate over this past weekend would be amiable sorts able to carry on pleasant conversation. If there were any fights over masks or no masks, vaccinations or not, I missed them. 

A bonus arrived in the form of a lovely springlike autumn day. Another, the smell of horses at the Equestrian Center and a third, the proximity to the Valero and its excellent supply of diet soda.

It was advertised as a 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. affair but under the highly capable direction of Patty Groos the plants had disappeared and we had cleaned up an hour ahead of the announced closing time. All that was left was the lingering scent of sage. And horses.

If you missed it, and some of you did, you can still benefit from the existence of Native Plants Live Here and its knowledge of what grows well here, what doesn’t, what attracts deer and what repels them. I assume most of the types of vegetation sold Saturday are at least somewhat drought tolerant. Patty and Leslie Lipton would know. There is also information available on how and when to plant the various varieties. Find information on their website,, Facebook, NextDoor, or email the group directly at

As for what to do when you are actually planting your plants and your back starts talking to you, that’s between you and your back.

Royal is a semi-retired journalist who has worked for newspapers in Fresno, Santa Cruz and Monterey. He has killed numerous plants in those cities.