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The Nature Observer 

Suzanne Guldimann is the editor of the Topanga New Times, and also TNT’s resident naturalist. She was recently asked to give a talk on being…

The Bear Truth 

We have a new neighbor in the Santa Monica Mountains. On April 23, National Park Service biologists captured and radio-collared a 210-pound black bear in…

Butterflies: Mythic Beauty 

Backyard Butterflies Fly, white butterflies, out to sea, Frail pale wings for the winds to try, Small white wings that we scarce can see Fly….

The Malibu Railway War 

From the moment the first transcontinental railroad steamed across the county in 1869, the nation had train mania. In California, that mania reached a fevered…


Giving to the World 

The Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, is almost here. The lights of Hanukkah have already burned bright and been extinguished for the year. Christmas is just a week away, and the sands in the hourglass of 2021 are beginning to run out—and none too soon for many of us. This has been a year of challenges and loss for so many. We were deeply saddened at TNT to learn of the recent passing of Arthur Nissman, a man whose life was a light that provided comfort and guidance for so many in Topanga. 

 Locally, we’ve faced fire fears, and the increasing threat of drought. Nationwide, there is an alarming increase in gun crimes, homicides, alcohol and drug use and traffic fatalities, and the fear and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic continues to cast a shadow over almost every aspect of life.

The number of cases across Los Angeles County and around the nation and the world are increasing again at a troubling rate. Omicron, the latest variant of the COVID-19 virus, may already be everywhere, and early studies suggest that it is highly communicable.

The death toll from COVID-19 in the unincorporated Santa Monica Mountains is currently 18. In Malibu the number of fatalities increased last week to 12. The Santa Monica Malibu School District is currently debating a vaccine mandate. An estimated 34,000 students in the district have not been vaccinated. A study at home program is being developed for district families who refuse vaccination. 

How can one cope with the barrage of bad news? Fra Giovanni Giocondo (c.1435–1515), a Renaissance mystic, architect, engineer, antiquary, classical scholar, and Franciscan friar, wrote some thoughts on that to the Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi on Christmas Eve, 1513. 500 years later, his words still bring comfort. 

“No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today. Take heaven!

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!

“The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. Take joy.

There is radiance and glory in the darkness could we but see—and to see we have only to look.”

Here at TNT we hope our holiday issue brings joy to our readers. Join us for some of the TNT family’s favorite holiday recipes. Check out our local and sustainable gift guide, and unwrap nature’s winter gifts in the final TNT almanac entry of the year in our Discover section.

Topanga’s beloved Snow Day is back at Pine Tree Circle on Sunday, December 19, 4-8 p.m., and there may even be a little real snow in the mountains by Christmas, because rain is finally back in the forecast, after one of the longest, driest years on record. 

Whatever holiday you celebrate, and wherever you are this season, we wish you joy.

Stay safe, be well, and Merry Christmas.

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