2015 was a dry year everywhere else in the West, but here in the central coastal mountains of California, the rainfall totals were about normal and the plants, well, let’s just say they’re really happy. And I’m happy, ha! I’m here harvesting in the mountains of Big Sur, camping out, gathering around the campfire in the evenings with the chill of the fog rolling in and that delicious smell of the ocean. The fog burns off in the morning and it gets hot out here, harvesting all day… nothing gets me deeper into the world of plants than spending days harvesting. Just touching and pruning the same species of plant over and over again, the repetition of touching Woolly Blue Curls over and over again, the goo gets on your skin, the smell deep into your dreams.
I love going deep and nothing gets me in deeper with plants than spending days harvesting, napping underneath a black sage bush… my animal senses come alive and suddenly I’m there and deep in the beautiful thing.
To state the obvious, we’re animals. For the past 65 million years since the dinosaurs died out, we’ve had our sense of smell and taste – not our higher cognitive functions, but we’ve always had our noses. As humans and mammals, almost all of our evolutionary history of interacting with nature precedes the development of our frontal lobe – in other words, we respond to nature and the wild with our primitive animal senses, not our brain. Our sense of smell goes so deep, it’s constantly affecting us in primitive ways that we’ll just never understand. All those studies that show that hiking in nature has an outsized positive impact on things like blood pressure and our hormones are never surprising to me. I feel that every day when I’m out on the trail, and being out here right now … ah gawd, it just sets me right.
The rains come in November or December, and the plants go kaboom.
I love these central coastal mountains of California because they just explode with Spring beauty. All year long these mountains are dry, and the plants wait for the rain … wait, wait, wait. And then, boom! The rains come in November or December, and the plants go kaboom – they’ve been waiting for this all year, and suddenly it’s green everywhere, bees in the air, the thick resiny smell of sage, green grass… it’s just pure magic.
(conservation aside) Save the wild! We are driven and inspired by the mission of our biz to use the money we make to protect wilderness. We donate 10% of our profits to groups that defend western wilderness – not the big environmental groups who are working on projects all over the world in addition to general sustainability issues like renewable energy (all worthy projects!), we just focus on protecting wilderness in the mountains of the West. When I first started this business, it was tiny, and I wrote checks for $250 to wilderness groups and they’d be all “great, thanks.” But now we’re writing big checks – last year we gave away $22,000, and this year it’ll be more like $25,000. We’re focusing that money on groups that have big, active campaigns going to save chunks of the western wilderness. We’re really starting to have an impact. In the coastal range of California, we’ve been working on the Snow Mountain / Berryessa national monument designation – 350,000 acres of forgotten wilderness in the northern coastal range. We’ve put money into this campaign, we dragged reporters out there from Sacramento for a live morning segment on the local news channel, and we know for a fact that we’ve gotten this potential National Monument designation in front of Obama. 350,000 acres of new protected coastal range? That designation will probably go through this year or next, and it’s huge – just that one designation would effectively add about 1% to the total wilderness currently protected in the West, and if Juniper Ridge were to disappear tomorrow, at least we did that. National Monument / Wilderness designations are forever. As Juniper Ridge Customers, that’s your money being put to work for the wild.