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.

"I quite enjoyed a day out in the field."

Cassandra Bramucci

By Cassandra Bramucci & Margaret Magnus

Every spring at Meher Mount, amid the stirring of new life – nesting birds, blooming wildflowers, tender new leaves on the ubiquitous Coast Live Oak trees swollen from recent rains – volunteers from far and wide gather to perform the rituals of weed abatement.

BUZZ GLASKY DRIVES the ride-on mower to begin the fire clearance process. (Photo: Ginger Glasky, April 2019)

BUZZ GLASKY DRIVES the ride-on mower to begin the fire clearance process. (Photo: Ginger Glasky, April 2019)

It is mandatory in Ventura County, CA, that by June 1st a strict protocol of reducing hazardous vegetation and creating defensible spaces around buildings and roads must be completed by all property owners in anticipation of the upcoming fire season.

RON HOLSEY gets a head start on the weed whacking before the weekend begins. (Photo: Buzz Glasky, May 11, 2019)

RON HOLSEY gets a head start on the weed whacking before the weekend begins. (Photo: Buzz Glasky, May 11, 2019)

There is little doubt that this kind of stewardship at Meher Mount prevented the devastating Thomas Fire of December 2017 from destroying the buildings, utilities, and equipment. 

The Manager/Caretakers at Meher Mount have traditionally started their abatement efforts in late March. It takes weeks just to bring a long winter’s worth of untamed growth and scattered natural debris into a manageable state.

The 2019 winter saw the most rainfall in a decade, so Interim Caretakers Buzz and Ginger Glasky had their hands full keeping the tractor and riding mower running smoothly and rolling over the 70-plus acres that needed the most care.

They worked hard to keep the fields and paths clear while preparing for the final push by volunteers who come in May for a busy weekend of weed-whacking, mowing, garden clean-up, and removing dead and fallen branches.

BING HECKMAN is mowing the grassy area near the Visitor Center. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 18, 2019)

BING HECKMAN is mowing the grassy area near the Visitor Center. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 18, 2019)

This year, 21 volunteers arrived in shifts from May 11 through May 24, 2019, to help. Some were young, some not so young. Some new to Meher Mount, others who mark their calendars for this time of year. Some who were a few hours’ drive away, others who came from across the country. It is the joy of working with such enthusiastic and friendly folks that makes volunteering such a memorable event.

WEEDING THE GARDEN by the Visitor Center at Meher Mount are volunteers Susie Lemieux and Erin Sommerville. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 18, 2019)

WEEDING THE GARDEN by the Visitor Center at Meher Mount are volunteers Susie Lemieux and Erin Sommerville. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 18, 2019)

There was good humor and camaraderie that abounded as teams of workers headed off to work after getting their instructions from Buzz Glasky and Sam Ervin. 

Weeds come in all kinds and sizes. Some are tall grasses that need to be mowed to the ground, others are plants in the wrong places that need to be removed, and still others are invasive plants that must be completely eradicated and carefully disposed of.

The first goal is fire abatement, the second goal is making sure Meher Mount looks its best for visitors, and the third is removing invasive plants to allow the native, fire-resistant and fire-adapted plants to flourish.

GINGER GLASKY is weeding the garden and open area by the Visitor Center/Caretaker Quarters. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 18, 2019)

GINGER GLASKY is weeding the garden and open area by the Visitor Center/Caretaker Quarters. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 18, 2019)

A team including Ginger Glasky, Erin Sommerville, Susie Lemieux, Margaret Magnus, Homayar Gandhi, and Nancy Rugo, pulled and raked weeds in the walkways, driveways and around the Visitor Center. As Sam Ervin remarked after all the weeding was completed, “This definitely looks better.”

Sam and Cassandra Bramucci tackled the largest invasive purple thistle encountered on the property. It filled a plastic bag and took about an hour to remove. Sam continued his quest to remove the thistle over the next three days.

INVASIVE PURPLE THISTLE is under attack at Meher Mount from Sam Ervin and Cassandra Bramucci. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 18, 2019)

INVASIVE PURPLE THISTLE is under attack at Meher Mount from Sam Ervin and Cassandra Bramucci. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 18, 2019)

Longtime Meher Mount veteran Bing Heckman sprang into action mowing the area below the Ring Road and clearing around the Workshop and Topa Topa Patio. It was a challenging task to wrangle the self-propelled mower over the rough terrain still crumbling underfoot from the harsh rains of winter.

CUTTING DOWN THE WEEDS by the Workshop and Topa Topa Patio at Meher Mount is long-time volunteer and supporter Bing Heckman. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 18, 2019)

CUTTING DOWN THE WEEDS by the Workshop and Topa Topa Patio at Meher Mount is long-time volunteer and supporter Bing Heckman. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 18, 2019)

Eric Turk – who has been continuously battling poison oak since the 2017 Thomas Fire – also took the weed eater wherever needed to get those spots where the ride-on mower or tractor could not reach. Even before the weekend started, Ron Holsey spent a day using the weed whacker around the property.

ERIC TURK uses the weed eater to clear away tall grass and weeds at the entrance to Meher Mount. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 19, 2019)

ERIC TURK uses the weed eater to clear away tall grass and weeds at the entrance to Meher Mount. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 19, 2019)

Steve Bostwick and Umakanth Umapathy gathered with Sam Ervin at Baba’s Tree to help clear the weeds and invasive plants both inside and outside of the seclusion fence. Umakanth later sent an email, “I to wanted express that I quite enjoyed a day out in the field.

“I thoroughly enjoyed being there working, though I did feel a bit sad for cutting plants even if they are weeds. Well, I do believe it’s for the greater good, and it will give way for better plants to grow. I also enjoyed the inclusive lunch atmosphere, and these are moments to be cherished.”

WEEDS & INVASIVE PLANTS are no match for this team. (Left to right) Steve Bostwick, Sam Ervin and Umakanth Umapathy do fire abatement around Baba’s Tree at Meher Mount. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 18, 2019)

WEEDS & INVASIVE PLANTS are no match for this team. (Left to right) Steve Bostwick, Sam Ervin and Umakanth Umapathy do fire abatement around Baba’s Tree at Meher Mount. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 18, 2019)

Soon it was time to break for lunch. Everyone gathered on the Topa Topa patio to share their food potluck style while renewing the bonds that tend to form among those who volunteer at Meher Mount. 

For the afternoon shift, a group that included Cynthia Griffin, Khushnam Crawford, Cassandra Bramucci, Susie Lemeiux, Ervin Sommerville, and Margaret Magnus gathered around the kitchen table to fold, address, and stamp 400-plus Anniversary Sahavas flyers soon to be mailed out. 

FLYERS FOR THE 2019 ANNIVERSARY SAHAVAS at Meher Mount are being folded, stamped and addressed by (left to right) Khushnam Crawford, Cassandra Bramucci, and Cynthia Griffin. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 18, 2019)

FLYERS FOR THE 2019 ANNIVERSARY SAHAVAS at Meher Mount are being folded, stamped and addressed by (left to right) Khushnam Crawford, Cassandra Bramucci, and Cynthia Griffin. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 18, 2019)

THE FATHER-SON TEAM of James Whedon and his son Ian (in blue) work on building the A-frame structure to protect the harvested and milled wood from Baba’s Tree. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 28, 2019)

THE FATHER-SON TEAM of James Whedon and his son Ian (in blue) work on building the A-frame structure to protect the harvested and milled wood from Baba’s Tree. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 28, 2019)

Meanwhile with team leader Jim Whedon, a group completed construction of an A-frame storage shed for the harvested and milled wood from Baba’s Tree.

Joining him were his son Ian Whedon, Jim’s nephew Anthony LoGalbo and his wife Heather Mabbitt, and Jim’s long-time friend Richard Griffin from Salem, MA.

Others continued with weed whacking and invasive plant removal until the day finally wound down toward everyone’s favorite part of work weekends: Saturday night dinner.

A caravan of cars headed down Sulphur Mountain to Boccali’s restaurant in Ojai with tired bodies, full hearts, and healthy appetites. The food was excellent, but the company was even better. 

“I definitely wanted to spend my birthday helping out at Meher Mount. There was no doubt that was what I wanted to do,” declared Khushnam Crawford, as we all sang happy birthday and shared some delicious strawberry shortcake to celebrate.

DINNER after a hard day's work. (Left to right): Heather Mabbitt, Anthony LoGalbo, Erin Summerville, Margaret Magnus, Susie Lemieux, Sam Ervin, Cassandra Bramucci, Khushnam Crawford, Homayar Gandhi, Cynthia Griffin, Richard Griffin and Jim Whedon.

DINNER after a hard day's work. (Left to right): Heather Mabbitt, Anthony LoGalbo, Erin Summerville, Margaret Magnus, Susie Lemieux, Sam Ervin, Cassandra Bramucci, Khushnam Crawford, Homayar Gandhi, Cynthia Griffin, Richard Griffin and Jim Whedon.

A couple of days later, Sam Ervin and Margaret Magnus mowed and cleared dead limbs around the A-frame structure to create a fire-defensible space to protect Baba’s Tree wood.

They were joined by former Manager/Caretaker Ray Johnston, who traveled from Miami, FL, to help mow and disc for weed abatement.

OFF TO MOW some of the more remote access fields of Meher Mount that are near the homes of Meher Mount’s neighbors. Ray Johnston, driving the tractor, and Sam Ervin. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 20, 2019)

OFF TO MOW some of the more remote access fields of Meher Mount that are near the homes of Meher Mount’s neighbors. Ray Johnston, driving the tractor, and Sam Ervin. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, May 20, 2019)

He spent most of the following week clearing the meadow – known as the Prasad Orchard – next to the Narcanon neighbor’s buildings (the requirement is 100 feet of vegetation clearance). Ray also mowed another section of Meher Mount’s property up Sulphur Mountain Road and next to the home of Bill and Ernestine Kee.

He had hoped to disc those spots and others around the property, but rain on Sunday, May 19, 2019, made the ground so wet, that the discing only served to clog the disc with weed and mud which then had to be cleaned out. He resorted to mowing only.

Even as the team worked, it continued to rain – completely unseasonable for May in Southern California. So, Buzz and Ginger Glasky continued to mow the new growth to keep Meher Mount ready for fire inspection.

ALMOST EVERYONE at Meher Mount on Saturday, May 18, 2019. (Left to right) Cynthia Griffin, Ian Whedon, Margaret Magnus, Steve Bostwick, Ervin Sommerville, Cassandra Bramucci, Umakanth Umapathy, Buzz Glasky, Nancy Rugo, Susie Lemieux, Ginger Glasky, Homayar Gandhi, Bing Heckman and Sam Ervin. (Photo: Khushnam Crawford)

ALMOST EVERYONE at Meher Mount on Saturday, May 18, 2019. (Left to right) Cynthia Griffin, Ian Whedon, Margaret Magnus, Steve Bostwick, Ervin Sommerville, Cassandra Bramucci, Umakanth Umapathy, Buzz Glasky, Nancy Rugo, Susie Lemieux, Ginger Glasky, Homayar Gandhi, Bing Heckman and Sam Ervin. (Photo: Khushnam Crawford)



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