<!>Editor’s Note: Meet the Quackers — Rusty, Richard, and Sidney — three young surf ducks, born and raised in the canals of Venice, Calif. Their passion in life is to surf and save the earth by spreading the word about global warming and sustainability.</!>

We decided to pay a visit to our old neighborhood in Venice. Rusty heard big waves were on the way and he was dying to see the new Tsunami warning signs. Don’t worry. The waves and the signs were not related!

Richard and I exchanged looks and gulped hard at the height of the sand berms this year. Mountain climbing equipment to ascend and a rope to rappel would have been nice. Just how big were the expected waves? Cresting the berm, we were flooded with relief, no mega waves. Rusty was disappointed with the waves but loved the Tsunami signs. We hope we never see a Tsunami. How would we keep Rusty from trying to ride that too?

At the end of the day we took a route home through the old neighborhood. We were on Main near the post office when Rusty started with the barber shop thing again. He had been talking about getting a haircut for weeks and wouldn’t explain why. He stopped in front of a barbershop that offered haircuts and tattoos. Why did I come this way? Rusty thought this was the perfect place. Where else could you get a tattoo while getting your hair cut? I reminded Rusty again, “Feathers, we have feathers, not hair.” He answered, “hair, feathers, whatever, I want a hair cut.” 

First a hair cut, now a tattoo. Where would he put a tattoo? Rusty answered, “One on each foot, of course. I think a gigantic wave on my left foot and since escargot is my absolute favorite food, a snail on the right. It would be awesome! You always talk about being organized and efficient. What could be more efficient than a haircut and a tattoo at the same time?”

Rusty kept his face pressed against the window while Richard and I used our best arguments to keep him from going in. We practically had to drag him away. 

As we walked toward Lincoln, Rusty was still talking about tattoos. He had at least 50 reasons why we should go back. All the while Richard and I are wondering, why the sudden interest in a haircut? No Quacker we knew had ever had a haircut. Let’s not even mention the tattoo.

On Lincoln, Rusty saw another barber shop, Floyd’s. Have I ever mentioned that Rusty lives for Andy Griffith reruns? He loves Andy, Opie, and Barney. Lately, Floyd, the barber, has become his idol. When he saw the name, he was sure it was a “sign.” This was the place for his haircut. We were worn out. It was time to give up and give in. We told him, “Get the haircut, but tell us why!”

It seems Rusty had read an article about the ship that spilled 58,000 gallons of oil in the San Francisco Bay in November of 2007. It stated that more than 5,000 mats of human hair, provided by a group called Matter of Trust, were used to help soak up that oil slick. The mats, made from hair collected from salons all across the country, were a great help in the clean up effort. They soaked up oil like a paper towel. The hair mats have also been in use by the San Francisco Department of the Environment for their used motor oil collection program. Rusty was further impressed when he read that Matter of Trust was conducting an experiment with $10,000 worth of oyster mushroom spores donated by Washington state mycologist Paul Stamets. If all goes well the mushrooms will digest the oil on the mats and turn the mats into compost! Rusty just wanted to be part of the effort by donating his hair (read that feathers) to an organization that was doing so much for the environment. He read that individuals, salons, barbers, and even pet groomers could donate hair for future efforts, why not him? I still don’t understand the secrecy about it but Rusty is hard to figure sometimes.

Richard and I took off for a snack leaving Rusty at Floyd’s with suggestions for “something with a nice side part” or maybe a buzz cut. On our return, as we rounded the corner, we heard Rusty chatting with several people about the hair mats. Then we saw him. Stunned, we watched him proudly display his new haircut, a mohawk! We were quackless.

Rusty loves the mohawk. We are still getting used to it. It was for a good cause. How fast do feathers grow anyway?


To find out how your salon, barber shop or pet groomer can participate go to www.matterof trust.org

Phyllis and The Quackers can be reached at phyllis@phyllischavez.com.


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