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Volunteer Spotlight – Paula Redinger

Have you always called Tucson home?

I’ve lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, but no.  I’ve been here since the mid 90’s, however I’ve lived the rest of my life on the East Coast: CT, Boston, and Miami.

When did you start volunteering with the CSA?

Forever ago and then some?  I started by playing the flute in the courtyard, but the flute was too loud! So I moved on to the produce line.  I also started the “Week at My Table” newsletter series, and occasionally still write for that, too.

Cats or dogs?

Dogs!  Horses or cows? Cows!  Mac or PC?  PC!  iPhone or Android?  iPhone!  That should cover it!

What would we find you doing when you’re not at the CSA?

Well, of course I’m working, which, in my case, means playing the flute with any number of organizations in town: Tucson Symphony, Arizona Opera, True Concord Voices & Orchestra, Tucson Pops, as well as a few other engagements here and there.  But my obligations as a Pima County Master Naturalist have me volunteering for all sorts of things: counting birds for Audubon, tromping out to survey wilderness springs for Sky Island Alliance, lending a hand at the Pima County Native Plant Nursery, and pulling out and/or reporting invasive plants, to name a few.  I also have an “Advanced Training” (i.e. Continuing Education) requirement to fulfill each year, which, on one day, might be joining a “Plant Ramble” with the AZ Native Plant Society, or learning how to accurately measure trees for the AZ Magnificent Tree program on another, or, frequently, attending lectures by experts on various local natural and cultural history topics. I can’t move on to the next question without saying I also love spending time with Cooper, my pandemic-pup (who is not a puppy).  He’s a beagle, and I’m madly in love with him!  Oh, and there’s bicycling, and skiing, and hiking, and motorcycling, and (this one is new!) scuba diving!   There’s never enough time (or money) for all that life has to offer!  I also deeply enjoy simply poking around my backyard, seeing what there is to see.

Hiking in Kings Canyon

What is the best thing you have cooked recently?

Lately, I’ve discovered that any vegetable that takes well to roasting can be turned into a full meal, by roasting cooked chickpeas right beside it.  Toss in some cooked wheat berries when you pull the sheet pan out of the oven, and – voilà! –  dinner is done and delicious.  My seasonings vary: one day Indian, the next lemon and garlic, another day walnuts and …  you get the idea.  I give myself extra credit if I whip up something quick and flavorful to drizzle on top.

What are you looking forward to?

There’s always something to look forward to, but I’ve got an especially big one coming up: my partner Dave has cashed in his vast supply of airline and hotel points in exchange for a trip to French Polynesia! I’m incredibly excited to see the coral reef ecosystem there.  I’ll be working at my Utah summer opera festival this year, for the first time since the pandemic.  Not only will I see friends for the first time since 2019, I’ll also get to replenish my supply of the beautiful fruit that grows there, brought home in canning jars.  And I’m looking forward to (hopefully!) having “my” Lucy’s Warblers nest in my yard for the fourth (fifth?) year in a row.  I’ve started hearing them singing just this week, so nest building can’t be far behind.

Paula hitting the road on her motorcycle