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trust the spirit


first mushroom find!

Her and I just got back from a seemingly innocuous walkabout that ended up being quite noteworthy:  our first mushrooms!  After several days with my nose buried in a fantastic book that found itself to my lap, plant spirit healing, by pam Montgomery, we went for our daily walkabout in the woods with some freshly tuned intentions.  anyone who breathes oxygen as a source of life would enjoy reading this book, and I wanted to mention it due to the profound inspiration it has provided me in an incredibly short time.  Despite having walked our woods at least once daily since we moved onto the land, The walk today was a true first. 

It did not take long after leaving the house to find ourselves endlessly deep in wonder and meditation as we started down the trail.  Recognizing that our every inhale was an exhale of the trees that draped and swayed and towered around us, we connected ourselves instantly with the woods through the breath of life. 

Our senses were firing at full alert.  I felt like I was experiencing the woods on such a small scale compared to what i can normally perceive.  Detailed, and small—but comprehensive.  Walking at a usual pace, and with literally no effort of any kind, I was able to experience the woods in a fuller and more vivid presentation than ever before—every detail, on a huge scale, and all at once.  Every leaf, every flutter—every light, every vibration.  Not only could we experience it all, but we experienced it across every sense, and simultaneously in multiple dimensions, and with ourselves as an equal player. 

The moss on the trees was illuminating like some sort of fairy tale.  The woods were serenading us, intoxicating us—making love to us.  we both stopped in our tracks at the sane time.  my next comment was so comically understated it caused me to bust out laughing when I later recalled it.  “so, this is a nice spot.” 

What happened next was nothing short of magical.  Standing on the trail and looking into the open woods we both agreed that we were looking at some sort of cathedral-like space.    The trees on both sides arched up and bent in such ways that the structure was shockingly visible—harder to ignore than anything—I mean, it was a cathedral.  And about a hundred yards away where the altar would need be, there was a rounding-off to the space, a bit of a dome, and an altar of oak trees that were blanketed in the most beautiful moss.

At the center of it was one tree in particular that was literally glowing.  Standing a hundred yards away I did a quick scan of the woods, recognized that yes, almost every tree was glowing with a beautiful light shining through the moss—BUT—also yes, this one tree in particular was glowing like a spotlight.  A totally different color and brightness than everything else around.  “let’s go to it.”

When we arrived we received one of the most exciting gifts the land has given us thus far.  Beautiful, lush, elegant shelves of oyster mushrooms blooming on fallen and standing tan oaks.  The glowing moss, the milky oysters, the decaying leaves—the whole scene was just magic.  Moved beyond words, and grateful for so much, we climbed into a nearby maple tree and meditated on blessings of gratitude for the gifts of the woods.  

author's note:  with zero expierience and a moderate level of confidence we sauteed and enjoyed these mushrooms at eight pm california time, november 18--somebody give us a call in the morning and make sure we survived the meal


mother maple

The weight of what’s happening has come nowhere close to settling into my brainspace.  As I rest on a boulder, or scramble down a creek bed, or follow a fresh deer trail crosswise spring mountain’s backbone, the concepts of “ours” or “purchased” or “own” or “bought” are as foreign to my brain as the latin name of that bright red berry bush I’ve been debating on nibbling. 

If anything, as I walk, and hike, and bound across the property, my thoughts are of submission, of humility, of wonder, of seeking, of inquisition, and of mindfulness.  My meditation is the land.  Like the old baseball saying:  beee the baaall…just be the ball.  And so, as I walk the land, I “be” the land. 

These trees are great elders, and their collective wisdom and heritage is palpable as I traverse the woods.  the momentum of my booted foot swinging down the hill comes to an abrupt halt as I arrive at the base of a five hundred year old grandmother maple tree—EUREKA--four massive trunks—so powerfully feminine--pulsating skyward and expressing fully with a beautifully scraggly maple leafed crown--I’m awestruck.  Four sister trunks anchored into the earth--their beauty feels timeless, but at the same time so delicate. 

I grow roots through the pads of my feet--descending earthward through the leaves and the humus--tangling her's, now, thirty feet deep under the earth's crust, and i breathe.  I breathe my arms up towards her leafy crown, emulating her posture with every fiber in my trunk, my fingers branching up to the sun and I brreeeeaaattthhheeee. 

I breathe carbon dioxide straight into her maple leafed mouth and she rains golden white plumes of oxygen-infused healing light and love through my lungs and my blood.  

My breath, and therefore my life, are completely dependent on her ability to photosynthesize. 

Her vibrations are heavy like a pulsating heartbeat pounding three stories tall, and I can feel the force of her spirit—in fact, if i look, and if i ask, I can see it.     

The spirit of the property is immense.  It’s magic—pure, vital and dynamic gaia earth bouldering and exploding up and down spring mountain—ancient trees, great pillars—vibrant green moss covering wood and stone like fleece blankets.  she is rugged but fully accommodating.  her terrain is extreme but always bountiful.   We make tea from her bark, make snacks of her berries and acorns, and hunt for her fungi. 

month one of a lifetime wandering these woods.  Based on that lifetime ahead of me I inherently, at this point, must know ever so little.  To my nothing this land is my everything—our future is its’ alone.  wisdom, family, love, health, balance, patience, productivity—mother maple and these woods have already been a powerful teacher and healer. 

And to me, what has become abundantly clear, is that these woods are true destiny.   In 2008 her and I visited napa for a five-day vacation from the new york rat race.  In and out-wham, bam, thank you m’am.  This is the vacation that triggered a real brainshed moment in my life--one that divides before from after.  I returned from that trip to napa in the autumn of 2008 and found myself depressed to be living "the dream" in the big apple.  I wanted to quit my job, and at that time, I thought I wanted to go to culinary school.  I knew not yet what I actually wanted, but rather what I didn’t want—which was to be living in new york city.  Our visit to wine country was the true spark that ignited my desire to learn how to produce food.   

Two of the vineyards we visited on that short trip have property boundaries that nearly abut the land we just purchased in present day.  In our initial search for land we were open to all corners of the world, in theory, and certainly to all corners of this country, in earnest, and with all that land out there we ended up within walking distance of that 2008 vacation. 

Spring mountain is our destiny, and it has been calling us here for nearly half a decade.  I am so grateful for its’ wisdom, and its’ inspiration, and selfishly, its’ interest in us.  Our task, as we see it, is to become one with this land--To grow roots into this earth and to sprout many generations of humans, and animals, and plants alike. 

The mountain fruit must work harder, but it is almost certainly the tastiest. 


land owners

We are sitting on the crest of a personal tidal wave that began three years ago this month—three years we have been building for this moment, accumulating momentum, and froth, and energy--awaiting the tilt of resistance to break way, waiting for land to become home, and for the work to begin.  three years of work are but the first letter in the first sentence of this book. 

With awe and humility do we accept the treasure that is this land, and we hereby swear an oath to the grave to protect and to preserve and to enhance its well-being.  the universe is a magical kingdom, and this extraordinarily dynamic and abundant hillside is a gem on her crown.  If we listen to her stories, and tend to her wants and needs, and work for her causes, she will give us food and medicine and wellness in abundance.  She will give us wood to build our homes and rocks to line our roads.  Rain will fall free from the sky and combined with our sweat, and blood, and sun, and seeds she will feed us and support us and heal us for as long as we are true.  She is a sanctuary.  She is a gift from god, and the universe. 

as stewards, we accept the mighty responsibility of her well being.  I fall to my knees at her feet--I stretch my arms and my quivering digits to their maximum and reach for her heritage wisdom with all of my might.  We ask her to show us the way.  She tends generations of civilizations within her roots.  She grows mountains and forests, and for her do we now have purpose.   

In the tea of her bark,  

in the crush of her rock,

in the bloom of her shroom,

in the well of her springs,

and the soar of her hawks,

and the waft of her fir,

and the pollen on the knees of her bees

do I fall to my knees and stare wildly into the eyes of my awakening.  



for a moment there, life only made sense to me in snapshots.  the constantly changing landscape was a blur if viewed from any vantage point other than from within its own flux.  some of you have been reading posts on this site for a good handful of years now, and have thus witnessed a transformation in myself at the time of my own discovering it.  what began as mostly empty text about pork chops and farmer’s markets in brooklyn evolved into raising hogs and cattle with my own hands, and managing a dynamic vegetable farm in the hills of georgia before taking on a quite different challenge in the foothills of the great smokey’s.  

and now here we are.  another snapshot, another doorway.  arriving at my own front stoop.  i used to dream about this day:  sitting on a patio in west sonoma county, gazing at a swath of vines, and writing.  

leaving new york, farming in the south, studying under the management team of the number one resort in north america, and opening up our own farmstay and wellness center in the wine country of northern california.  it all sounds so well thought out.  the linearity of the story is shockingly smooth in comparison to the experience.  busting my chops on the floor of the new york stock exchange as preparation for herding eighteen busted-out cattle across a busy roadway isn’t exactly prescribed in any particular instruction manual.  but here i am none the less.  

we’ve found land.  we--have found--land.  the process isn’t closed yet, but i’m certain it will--and when it finally does, this here website will glisten with it’s lustrous glamor.  but until that day, she lies silent in my mind’s womb, gestating in giddy anticipation of sharing her in written word.  

since i last wrote: she made an honest man of me.  we wed on her home island, and afterwards we traveled by land and by sea.  we bonded with family and friends, and relocated across this great nation to the heart of california wine country.  the dog likes it here.  after a short but busy month of constantly visiting properties and searching for land we have finally found the perfect site.  

the excitement i have for this process can sometimes feel stifling.  in a world full of difficult challenges, hardships, imbalances and injustices feeling too good about our blessings carries a guilty weight around its’ neck.  but i know, in the heart of my mind, that we have worked hard, and we have stayed focused, and we are achieving our goals--and for that, i feel good.    

today, on this porch, the sun blasts through my window and warms my face like a magnifying glass.  tomorrow is another site visit to the property, and this time we are showing it to her brother who is visiting for the week, along with some consultants over the coming days.  having family on the land will be one of many upcoming checkmarks that will cement this experience into reality, plucking it from the stratosphere of "can you believe we actually live here?!" where it currently resides.  but for now, as i sit and write, the confusing energy of a new place, and a new home, fills me and swirls through my being like a cosmic spirit.  earlier today, driving from here to the coast, through the cow fields, over the golden brown hills, and to that great blue sea was--to me--like an eagle gently releasing it’s talons from a thousand foot rock   cliff.  just free.  


Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country

three years ago I sat captive to the limits of my own imagination on the concrete shores of manhattan—staring at the east river ripping by—claustrophobic under the shadows of skyscrapers—sad, but unaware why. 

west is best, I thought.  something inside me yearned for it.  maybe it’s the tv’s fault, maybe it’s the grateful dead’s.  maybe it’s because at age four my parent’s took me to my first live concert:  the beach boys at Nassau coliseum.  amazing. 

three years later I sit here in the foothills of the smoky mountains a married man.  my mind’s eye beams like a spotlight in one direction only, and now—at last--the time is upon us. 

it’s farm land we seek.  it’s a home.  it’s the future.  returning home, for the very first time.  a place for healing, a place for food.  a place to just be.  a place to grow deep roots.

if california was approaching me in a meadow of wildflowers i would sprint towards her in slow motion and embrace her with open arms.  i want to roll in her sand, climb her hills, and swim in her sea.  i want to stand on her hilltops in a thunderstorm, my barefoot feet in her mud,  and howl like a wolf into her darkened skies.  it's time. 


so blue

floating here, under the moon’s pale blue light, it takes nearly no time before I, myself, become the water.

the flow of it, and its’ uncertain source, its’ nonexistent end, its’ unknown depth and its’ continual movement—it’s me—my breath.

before the water—nay, for the water—is my awareness.

the water, and myself, we both are but an object of awareness—swirling.

thoughts about this water—thoughts about myself—my conscious mind is but a witness, while awareness simply lies in wait—the depth of blue beneath us both. 


just a log now, a log adrift, I marvel in awareness of my breath—the water. 

each inhale I swell with the sea, and each exhale a new inhale crests white.

saturated, and fully alive, I float here in sopping wet gratitude for my breath and the sea.   

life—awareness—breath—they simply live through me, while i—the body—dissolve into nothing.