Same Time Next Year in Mok Hill
By Antoinette May Herndon
Let me tell you about a man for all seasons, a true Renaissance guy. Let me tell you about Mokelumne Hill’s Ed Cline. A photographer, poet and professional croquet player, Ed moved to the foothills nine years ago from Phoenix and very quickly made a name for himself through his volunteer work at the Calaveras County Arts Council.
Take a look at the council’s art gallery. It could easily be in San Francisco, London or Paris. But, thanks to Ed’s design and direction, we can all enjoy it in San Andreas. And, consider Mokelumne Hill’s annual Summer in the Park, a six-week art program for kids and a weekly Friday evening Music for a Summer Evening. Both are Ed Cline enterprises that take place every summer in the town’s Shutter Tree Park.
Perhaps you may also know Ed as the poet laureate of Mokelumne Hill. (Check him out at Poet’s Night, Aug. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in the Mok Hill Library.)
Ed is passionate about what he does. Needless to say, the Black and White Ball, a benefit that he masterminded for the Friends of Mokelumne Hill, has become an instant legend.
Now let me tell you about Ed’s beautiful
companion, Brenda Nasser, Mok’s town librarian. (And, in my not so humble opinion, one of the two best cooks in three counties.)
What have Ed and Brenda been up to currently? Most recently it was a brunch not only for their town but for anyone who cared to drop by. Mother Lodians from near and far, invited or not, crowded into their narrow sliver of a Victorian cheek by jowl to the Hotel Leger. The annual Mokelumne Hill July 4th parade, basically a cavalcade of shiny trucks, had just concluded.
The crowd was hot, hungry, and thirsty. Magically—or so it seemed—a feast awaited them. Brenda had been cooking for a week. She and Ed had laid out a glorious array of goodies in the living room of their Main Street dwelling. Brenda is a culinary queen. And when one thinks of southern hospitality—Brenda’s a Texas belle—this lady springs immediately to mind.
It’s a good thing too. She has been pressed into this roll, like it or not. For seven years Ed and Brenda have hosted two annual drop-in events, one on July 4, the other at Christmas time—surely you’ve seen Ed’s gingerbread house, it’s a show- stopper.
But those events are organized and happen on holidays. The drop-ins don’t stop there. Visitors to the town
stroll by, peek into Ed and Brenda’s inviting front window, and see what looks very like a decorator show house.
They marvel at a magnificent art collection and assume that it’s somehow connected to the hotel next door. More than once, passersby have walked right in and climbed the stairs to the second floor oohing and ahing all the way over the splendid paintings lining the walls.
Sometimes they just settle into a comfortable chair in the cozy living room. “I’d like two cups of coffee,” a stranger recently informed Brenda .”
“Oh, just help yourself,” she invited him. “The pots plugged in and cups are on the drain board
Afterwards, still not figuring it out, the unknown visitor asked how much he owed her.
“Nothing,” Brenda assured him, smiling her famous Houston smile. “It’s on the house.”
Mokelumne Hill’s Ed Cline is a man for all seasons. Art collecting is but one of his passions.
Brenda Nasser is known for her culinary acumen. Behind her is Sharon Ramano, whose Ramano fizzes are famous.
Irene Boylson selects from a table of Brenda Nasser specialties.