MEHER MOUNT

9902 Sulphur Mountain Road
Ojai, CA 93023-9375

Phone: 805-640-0000
Email: info@mehermount.org

HOURS

Wednesday-Sunday: Noon to 5:00 p.m.
Monday & Tuesday: Closed

MANAGER/CARETAKERS

Buzz & Ginger Glasky

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Sam Ervin, Preident
Ron Holsey, Vice President
Ursula Reinhart, Treasurer
Jim Whitson, Director
Richard Mannis, Director

OFFICERS

Margaret Magnus, Secretary

9902 Sulphur Mountain Rd
Ojai, CA, 93023
United States

(805) 640-0000

Story Blog

Anecdotes, activities and stories about Meher Mount - past, present and future.

Fire Is a Creative Force - Three Benches from Baba's Tree

Margaret Magnus

By Margaret Magnus

 MOST OF BABA'S TREE was detached and lying on its side after the December 2017 Thomas Fire. Even though this might look like a standing tree, the bulk of the branches and limbs have fallen to the north of the main trunk of Baba's Tree. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, December 21, 2018) 

MOST OF BABA'S TREE was detached and lying on its side after the December 2017 Thomas Fire. Even though this might look like a standing tree, the bulk of the branches and limbs have fallen to the north of the main trunk of Baba's Tree. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, December 21, 2018) 

Fire Is a Creative Force

When the December 2017 Thomas Fire struck Meher Mount, it set in motion a regeneration and renewal process beyond fire recovery. On the surface, the fire damage seemed to be modest. Below the surface, the fire stirred a new creative energy that is moving in all directions.

Baba's Tree suffered major and irrevocable change. Winds and fire shattered the tree's crown and burned most of the trunk. The weakened trunk split, toppling several major limbs to the ground.

But, the creative energy and the energy of Baba's Tree persists. The wood from Baba's Tree has been salvaged, milled, and stored for future use.

For immediate use, Meher Mount worked with artisan Harold Greene to create three outdoor benches from Baba's Tree to be placed near Baba’s Fireplace.

Baba's Fireplace is the only remaining man-made artifact from Avatar Meher Baba’s 1956 visit to Meher Mount. All other buildings, memorabilia, and machinery were destroyed the 1985 New Life Fire.

Wood from Baba’s Tree Is Milled

 THREE LARGE LIMBS waiting for Peter Harnisch of  Harnisch Tree Care  to return with a special mill to create wood planks and the benches. The Seclusion Fence around Baba's Tree is to protect both the tree and visitors. Other logs are waiting to be transported to the storage area. (Photo: Sam Ervin, February 7, 2018)

THREE LARGE LIMBS waiting for Peter Harnisch of Harnisch Tree Care to return with a special mill to create wood planks and the benches. The Seclusion Fence around Baba's Tree is to protect both the tree and visitors. Other logs are waiting to be transported to the storage area. (Photo: Sam Ervin, February 7, 2018)

When the fallen wood of Baba’s Tree was milled, three uniquely shaped logs were partially cut into planks of various thickness. The the bottom half of each log was not milled and left to be made into benches for use at Meher Mount.

 HAROLD GREENE (left) assessing the milling process of one the large limbs that would become an outdoor bench at Meher Mount. The top section was milled into planks, and the bottom section used for a bench. Peter Harnisch (center) is doing the actual milling with his portable saw on site at Meher Mount on February 13, 2018. (Photo: Sam Ervin)

HAROLD GREENE (left) assessing the milling process of one the large limbs that would become an outdoor bench at Meher Mount. The top section was milled into planks, and the bottom section used for a bench. Peter Harnisch (center) is doing the actual milling with his portable saw on site at Meher Mount on February 13, 2018. (Photo: Sam Ervin)

 THREE HALF-LIMBS are milled and ready to be finished to create outdoor benches at Meher Mount. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, February 13, 2018)

THREE HALF-LIMBS are milled and ready to be finished to create outdoor benches at Meher Mount. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, February 13, 2018)

“You never see so much wood with this kind of opportunity from a single tree,” said Harold. Given that these benches are to be used outside, the wood could be used immediately without waiting for it to dry and cure.

Design of the Benches

In February 2018, Harold Greene, the artisan furniture maker who had guided the milling process for the benches, submitted a conceptual drawing for creating the benches.

 A SKETCH for using the half-logs from Baba's Tree for the major portion of the bench. The 18-inch legs are from burned sections of logs of Baba's Tree. (Sketch: Harold Greene, February 2018)

A SKETCH for using the half-logs from Baba's Tree for the major portion of the bench. The 18-inch legs are from burned sections of logs of Baba's Tree. (Sketch: Harold Greene, February 2018)

 BURNED BRANCHES were cut into pieces to form the legs of the three outdoor benches. These legs were set on teak to help protect them from ground moisture. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, April 20, 2018)

BURNED BRANCHES were cut into pieces to form the legs of the three outdoor benches. These legs were set on teak to help protect them from ground moisture. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, April 20, 2018)

The Benches Are Created

On April 20, 21, and 22, 2018, Harold Greene, whose company is Antiques of the Future, came to Meher Mount to make these half logs into beautiful, organically shaped benches.

Using sections of smaller, burned limbs as “legs,” he attached them to the milled sections, sanded off the rough edges, and created natural, organic benches.

 THE HALF LOG is turned upside down so that Harold Greene can fashion a spot to insert the legs cut from other limbs of Baba's Tree. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, April 20, 2018)

THE HALF LOG is turned upside down so that Harold Greene can fashion a spot to insert the legs cut from other limbs of Baba's Tree. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, April 20, 2018)

 A STRONG-MEN TEAM helped flip the benches. (Left to right) Sean Hemeon, Aaron Hemeon and Harold Greene. Not pictured: Robert Turnage, Gerry Bond, Jim Whitson and Sam Ervin. (Photo: Sam Ervin, April 21, 2018)

A STRONG-MEN TEAM helped flip the benches. (Left to right) Sean Hemeon, Aaron Hemeon and Harold Greene. Not pictured: Robert Turnage, Gerry Bond, Jim Whitson and Sam Ervin. (Photo: Sam Ervin, April 21, 2018)

 HAROLD GREENE finishing the top of the benches by sanding down the rough edges. (Photo: Sam Ervin, April 21, 2018)

HAROLD GREENE finishing the top of the benches by sanding down the rough edges. (Photo: Sam Ervin, April 21, 2018)

Each bench tells a story about the life of Baba’s Tree. You can see the grain and growth pattern, areas that were burned in the fires that struck the tree, sections that were invaded by a fungus, and a limb that had a steel cable running through it. It’s all beautiful.

FUTURE PLACEMENT BY BABA'S FIREPLACE

These benches are currently by Baba’s Tree at Avatar’s Point but will be placed near Baba’s Fireplace when the area is ready.

 A CONCEPTUAL DRAWING of the area by Baba's Fireplace, which was part of the room where Avatar Meher Baba met with His followers on August 2, 1956. The fireplace is the only remaining man-made artifact from His visit. Everything else was destroyed in the 1985 New Life Fire. Conceptually, the plan is to create a quiet area for contemplation. The benches are shown for potential placement. The plan is not yet completed as the board finalizes the specifics. (Drawing: Byron Pinckert, April 17, 2018)

A CONCEPTUAL DRAWING of the area by Baba's Fireplace, which was part of the room where Avatar Meher Baba met with His followers on August 2, 1956. The fireplace is the only remaining man-made artifact from His visit. Everything else was destroyed in the 1985 New Life Fire. Conceptually, the plan is to create a quiet area for contemplation. The benches are shown for potential placement. The plan is not yet completed as the board finalizes the specifics. (Drawing: Byron Pinckert, April 17, 2018)

MEDIA COVERAGE OF BABA'S TREE

Two different newspaper reporters/photographers, who have been following Baba’s Tree, visited during this process to interview Harold and photograph the process: Writer/photographer Perry Van Houten from the Ojai Valley News and writer Claudia Boyd-Barrett with photographer Juan Carlo from the Ventura County Star.


Event: The Unveiling: Benches from Baba's Tree

Saturday, May 12, 2018
12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Meher Mount
9902 Sulphur Mountain Road, Ojai, CA 93023

The unveiling of three new benches from Baba's Tree is an opportunity to celebrate Meher Mount's regeneration and renewal. You are invited to this open house. There will be a special arti (songs, prayers, quotes, poems) inside the seclusion fence for Baba's Tree.

The event also marks the "official" re-opening of Meher Mount following the December 2017 Thomas Fire. Click here for more information on the event


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