I consider myself incredibly lucky. Every weekend tourists flock to our little valley to take in its surroundings, sip coffee from our local baristas, drive along the orange orchards taking in the drunk scent of blossoms in spring, experiencing that blissful, sanguine, atmosphere that makes Ojai, Ojai. But then Monday rolls around and they all head back to wherever they call home, with a little piece of their heart left on some dusty trail meandering along our mountainside.
My childhood was spent roaming my backyards in Upper Ojai and Matilija Canyon. Lovingly referred as free-range, my parents had only two rules; be back by dark and take the dogs. This is where my love-affair with our local ecosystem truly began. I was able to foster a relationship with our flora and fauna that makes this area of the world so unique! Ojai is one of five Mediterranean climates in the world with a blend of chaparral desert ecosystem. Our Spring is short-lived, our summers hot and blistery, our only hint of fall is through the Sycamores and few deciduous trees that live in our seasonal creeks, and winters we can see the Ceanothus blooms cover the hills in white. I learned how to make paintbrushes out of Yucca leaves and hunt for rocks striped with red iron that I could use to paint with, just like the Chumash native americans that called this valley home long before us.
Both of my parents had green thumbs and day jobs. Somehow we ended up with a couple beehives, eighty chickens, and some seasonal crops and still called ourselves hobbyists. As time went on I left home, traveled and worked, but always had the inclination to return to my roots. So here we are! Figuratively and literally planting myself in Ojai, once again. It gives me such joy to be working and providing for my community with my partner, Sean and our dog D-Bo.
As the tidally exposed sands of the equinox awash in this saline brine; there is exposure and return…..ambitiously fluttering sand crabs scurry somewhere beneath the sand, whilst, the arcane, listless, sun bleached carapaces of langostas, stranded along the highest mark of the tide during some storms past…...return.
Educated in Finance, I’ve spent the better part of a decade as a boat captain, traveling the world in search of “the perfect place to live forever”......often finding a minute flaw in some enchanted land, or having some artisan alchemist upon a foreign beach, explain my psychosis in foreign tongue, after having only known me for a mote of time, perfectly to me……..I was undoubtedly drawn home.
There were times I was tempted, job offers, or if a tricky north wind picked up, however I held steadfast….I could remain a mariner forever and never achieve the family life which age has sown a desire.
Ojai! Really is the perfect place to live! The Valley holding me within her vortex…...parallel to the sea….an orientation unlike any along the coast of this great state….and precisely as my sun bleached carapace was about to return to the sea, Mackenzie’s ambitiously fluttering heart enticed me to embark on an endeavor parallel to that of a boat captain…..as a FLOWER FARMER!!! Only logical. Right!