This beautiful 300 acre property near Calistoga was once a popular retreat site. In 2017 it was destroyed by fire. But now the owner, David Levy, inspired by a new vision, is on a mission to restore the land and rebuild better.
Last Friday I flew up there with John Majeski. His cute little Cirrus is named after a cloud. It is so light that he can pull it all by himself. It’s mostly made of carbon fiber, like my new Emerald guitar, Shakti, so this is effectively a cloud made of guitars. My kind of plane.
San Jose to Santa Rosa in 25 minutes! Only the camera can see that propeller — to our eyes it is invisible.
This is really different from flying over the world in a big jet at 30,000 feet. Propeller planes can’t do that because up high in the sky there isn’t enough air for their propellor to chew on, or for us to breathe. So we cruised at 6500 ft, close enough to the ground to see motorcycles and mice and molecules and all kinds of small things beginning with m.
All the cool instruments with multiple redundancies (i.e. if one stops working, the others pitch in). Their main job is to stop us bumping into things like other planes, or the ground.
It’s a crazy 3D moving jigsaw puzzle — those air traffic controllers are keeping us all alive. We’re on the same radio channel as the big commercial jets so we could hear all the chatter from the 747 pilots coming in from Asia. Everyone speaks in this secret code language. It sounds like Martian. I just had to trust that it all meant something and it wasn’t simply nonsense noises they were making up on the spot, hoping to inspire trust.
The gang. We met at the property. From left, Patrick the Water Whisperer. I’m the one in orange. Dave, Steward of the land and John who connected us all.
Regrowth is slow. Those fires were super hot, destroying all life deep into the soil. This valley is an ancient volcano crater.
This little Mirolin plant cures lung disease. It grows after fires pass over. Natures timely, intuitive medical service.
I couldn’t imagine how land this dry could be restored. But Pat told us that with 30 inches of rain a year, over 300 acres, there is plenty of water here. It just needs to be captured and tamed.
Plus the aquifer is only 50 feet beneath us, so even though it seemed dry, we were all walking on water.
Pat the Water Whisperer
Pat’s company, AQUACO, optimizes catchment. In near-future Mayacamas this will slow the flow through the land so that the Earth Juice has a chance to seep into the soil all across the valley, delayed by plants and roots and ponds and shade, restoring the land and nourishing life.
AQUACO designs and installs this magic system using tanks and pipes and software that not only manages the water flow but fights fire! Water is so cool!
Pat is 1/16th Cherokee. He looks kind of white (or pink or whatever we are) like me, so I was wondering how much this really means.
Quite a bit as it turns out. He is an encyclopedia of knowledge about water and this kind of land. Such a little slice of Cherokee might not sound very impressive but that one sixteenth portion of Pat can just hold up his hand and read how much moisture is in the wind! That convinced me. After all, my mum claimed that I’m one eighth Welsh druid but I can’t even live backwards in time like Merlin, so what do I know?
Many of the redwoods survived the fires. There is enough fog in the mornings for them to indulge daily in their favorite beverage, mist!
In our contemplation spot we enjoyed the cool breeze rising up from the redwood valley. A little mantra chanting and silent meditation induced a creative mood. The mood for stories and dreams as we discussed our visions for the future of this magical land.
Here I played my more organic Taylor guitar, Asha, which is Sanskrit for Hope.
Water from the air. I am now hyper aware that everything we do is built on a foundation of water. Starting with our bodies!
Water, Spirit and Hope. That’s my favorite beverage.
Bed time for our trusty cloud. I’m not being lazy — John wouldn’t let me help push. It’s a precision job fitting the Cirrus into the hangar and he didn’t want me to blow it and knock the end off one of the wings. Good idea.
The focus is not perfect, but I’m pretty sure this is an actual rare sighting of a simian finger. Next trip I’m hoping to spot a Bigfoot! 🙃