When Grass Mountain was in full bloom I wanted to live up there. If it wasn’t so steep I would have pitched a tent and camped in the poppy fields for days.
I read that this magical poppy explosion was a once in a 20 year bloom, and it almost completely wilted in just over a month. Despite its fleeting existence, I’m still on a high from the beauty of each venture up the mountain.
The night before this excursion I lay in bed completely awake. Excitement of visiting the flowers again had my mind racing. I planned this shoot for a couple weeks and my trip up north kept getting delayed by other responsibilities. After a few days of rain, I decided I had to make myself go, and in order to beat the crowd I woke up at the break of dawn. Looking out my window, I could still see a few twinkling stars.
That morning Santa Barbara had a gorgeous sunrise, and I watched the light illuminate my city as I drove up Hwy 154 towards Santa Ynez Valley.
Driving further along the mountains, I noticed a thick fog begin to creep in along the road. In my decent, the fog became denser and my view of traffic narrowed. From the drastic change in weather, it became very clear that if I encountered sun, it would mean climbing to the very top of Grass Mountain.
Once I started the hike, a cold mist blanketed the landscape. Because of the time, I was completely alone, listening only to the sound of nature as I walked through an open field, crossed a few creeks and began the difficult task of hiking uphill.
When I think back, I vividly remember one moment, upon arriving to the lone oak tree at the foot of Grass Mountain. At this point I allowed myself to rest, catching my breath and noticing a patch of blue sky slowly expanding as a light breeze brushed through the oak tree’s branches. The next few minutes were magic. I let my eyes wander the landscape, and as I scanned my surroundings, the misty fog became thinner. I watched the field around me expand, the mountain grew taller, exposing new peaks and neighboring mountain ranges, blue sky stretched above me and the sun beamed warm rays on my skin.
As the dense fog turned into light mist, I couldn’t help but feel like I was a part of a spell. It was a total fantasy movie moment, like a unicorn was about to appear in the mist and begin walking towards me (I know I mention unicorns way too much, but SERIOUSLY, that’s what it was like!).
The rest of the hike was more pure beauty. Now that I could see more of the mountain, I was stunned to find out that nearly all the poppies had already wilted and the mountainside was covered in tall grass. I wearily climbed to the very top and found a poppy patch dense enough for photos. I think I sat up there for two hours, stunned by the beauty of the fog below me and the orange blossoms dancing in the wind.
After this experience I felt recharged. Even after getting back to my car I couldn’t help but feel like some part of me was whole again.
I’ve noticed lately, that the more Wild & Free Jewelry grows, and the more I am immersed in the culture that surrounds fashion, I begin to feel a bit empty. As the brand grows, so does the pressure to conform to the mainstream way fashion presents itself. Customers want cheaper prices, faster turn-around, designs that are exactly the same rather than special pieces that are truly one of a kind. Staying true to my roots, keeping everything handmade and made to order is extremely difficult. There is an increasing expectation that because of my social media following and the demand for my designs, I must conform and begin to outsource my labor, or start to look at my business in terms of profit. Because of this, during the past few months I’ve felt a little off, like there is some impending monster of greed and ego challenging me to give up everything I believe in.
In response to this, I’ve been healing myself with nature. I’ve found that the wilderness is one of the few things I can count on to always make me feel whole again. It reminds me that instead of consumer greed or a shallow pursuit for beauty, fashion can be about finding a pretty kimono to wear in a field of poppies just because you appreciate the beauty in the fabric, the sparkling beading in the tassels, or the way it moves around your body as you dance along the mountainside. There’s much more to clothing than a price tag, just like the world is much more than a place for humans to inhabit. I think this sentiment is something we must constantly remind ourselves as the world continues to get increasingly globalized and ruled by human ego.
Remember to get outside and connect with yourself. Enjoy the beauty that surrounds you. There’s magic in this world and it’s out there waiting for you.