Town Crier: Waterfowl find home near new shopping center

MONTCLARION: July 30, 2015

In the distance, the mounds of gray sand look like pyramids, rising abruptly above the landscape. Soon enough they’ll be gone as the foundation is poured for a brand new shopping center at Pleasant Valley Road and Broadway.

Oddly enough, I’ve found solitude in Starbucks near this massive construction site. The coffee shop (where Emil Villa’s once operated) is perched over a greenish pond teeming with waterfowl.

I always assumed the lime-colored slime was from runoff created by the nearby golf course, but a science student apparently tested the water and told the baristas the green stuff is duckweed.

Duckweed is like a high-energy smoothie for ducks and geese. It’s got more protein than soybeans and in some parts of the world, it’s a food source for humans.

The upside of pond scum is something I wouldn’t have learned if I’d stayed in my home office. It’s why you see so many laptops in coffee shops. Behind the screens, tapping attentively on the keyboards, are writers like me who dare to ask the critical questions. Questions like why a body of water can’t be dredged for paddle boats and kayaks. The answer, for now, seems pretty clear. This pond belongs to the waterfowl.

Around town: Speaking of animals, local veterinarian Gary Richter is asking for your vote. The owner of Montclair Veterinary Hospital has been nominated for the annual America’s Favorite Veterinarian Awards from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF). There are more than 70,000 veterinarians in the United States. You can vote for Richter on the website

The neighborhood wine bar Duvin, 5736 Thornhill Drive, is using “guerrilla marketing” to bring in business. A sandwich board sign in Montclair got us to turn around and drop by the other evening. Duvin’s decor is inviting and I especially like the church pew that’s been given new life as seating along the side wall. Owners Lisa and Bruce have been bringing in local musicians and will start serving food any day now. Finally, I’m intrigued by something I read on their website: that they look forward to hosting a “who’s who of the East Bay glitterati.” Networking possibilities?

Giving back: The local hands-on charity 100 Friends turns 25 this summer. In 1989, founder Mark Gold has raised $1.5 million since 1989, when he first helped a Tibetan woman in the Himalayas, who had two terrible ear infections. The doctor said her life could be saved with a $1 antibiotic and her hearing restored for the price of a $39 hearing aid. When the retired professor returned to the Bay Area, he asked 100 friends to donate what they could. He brought $2,200 back to India and his shoestring charity was born.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at


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