When Kate Marianchild moved from the Mendocino coast to inland Mendocino County in 2001, she fell passionately in love with an ecosystem. Surrounded by acorn woodpeckers, northern flickers, and western bluebirds, she began wondering what they needed from their environment to survive––what food and nest materials as well as which plants for hiding, perching, nesting, and sleeping. Her curiosity led her on a winding path into the lives of other oak woodland species and soon she was telling her friends astonishing stories they had never heard––about lizards with third eyes, plants that are pollinated in the musical pitch of middle C, coyotes that hunt with badgers, and quail whose embryos talk to each other through egg shells. Wanting to share these stories widely, she approached Heyday with a book idea and soon began the research and writing that evolved into Secrets of the Oak Woodlands: Plants and Animals among California’s Oaks (Heyday, 2014).
Kate graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UC Berkeley in 1976 with a degree in comparative literature. During and after college she was a grassroots activist, over the years working on issues such as the Vietnam War, women’s health, feminism, and the environment. When she moved to Mendocino County in 1980, she supported herself as a carpenter, massage therapist, and, for 25 years, as the owner of a seaweed business (Rising Tide Sea Vegetables). After moving to her current oak woodland habitat, she worked as an events publicist for Peregrine Audubon Society, Grace Hudson Museum, and other local nonprofits while trying to recover from chronic Lyme disease. Luckily she recovered enough to write Secrets of the Oak Woodlands!
Since 2001, Kate has lived in a 25-foot diameter wooden yurt with no indoor plumbing except a sink and a 2-gallon hot water heater. She currently leads walks, gives talks, and teaches classes. In her spare time she watches nature, swims, sings, and participates in the events of her beloved small town.