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.

Filtering by Category: Events

The Birds Are Ready - Their Songs Fill the Air

Cassandra Bramucci

By Cassandra Bramucci & Margaret Magnus

BIRD WATCHERS along the well road at Meher Mount guided by two volunteers from the Ventura Audubon Society, Rick Burgess and Karen Laing for Family Bird Watching Day, April 6, 2019. (Photo: Margaret Magnus)

BIRD WATCHERS along the well road at Meher Mount guided by two volunteers from the Ventura Audubon Society, Rick Burgess and Karen Laing for Family Bird Watching Day, April 6, 2019. (Photo: Margaret Magnus)

It is well before the scheduled 8:00 a.m. start time for the Family Bird Watching Day at Meher Mount on Saturday, April 6, 2019. Rick Burgess and Karen Laing from the Ventura Audubon Society are already here ready to guide the bird watching walks. They bring a box full of binoculars and much excitement over this opportunity to share the bounty of nature at Meher Mount. They know the birds are ready as their songs already fill the air.

PREPARING FOR THE FAMILY BIRD WATCHING DAY

Waiting in the Visitor Center eager to greet the birders is Robert Turnage, board treasurer and longtime bird enthusiast. He and his wife, Kristina Somma, have come to Meher Mount from their home in Northern California to help Interim Caretakers Buzz and Ginger Glasky with some finishing touches in preparation for this special event.

The team put birdseed in all the feeders and poured water in all the bird baths to attract as many birds as possible. They cleaned out the pond in the circular driveway – the pond that draws so many creatures to Meher Mount, from deer to bobcat. Chairs are set up in the Visitor Center for the presentation from the Ojai Raptor Center scheduled for later in the day. And the Topa Topa Patio is prepared to receive guests for their BYO picnic lunch.

KRISTINA SOMMA along with Buzz and Ginger Glasky, Robert Turnage, and Cassandra Bramucci earlier drained the pond at Meher Mount and made sure the pump is working. Kristina is using the power washer to clean the pond before refilling it with water. This pond is a watering hole for birds, bobcats, deer and other animals that come to Meher Mount. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, April 4, 2019)

KRISTINA SOMMA along with Buzz and Ginger Glasky, Robert Turnage, and Cassandra Bramucci earlier drained the pond at Meher Mount and made sure the pump is working. Kristina is using the power washer to clean the pond before refilling it with water. This pond is a watering hole for birds, bobcats, deer and other animals that come to Meher Mount. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, April 4, 2019)

THE BIRDS APPEAR THIS MORNING — AND EVERY MORNING

Meanwhile, just after dawn this morning – as with most mornings – three or four California quail coveys drink at the pond, followed by hordes of Dark-Eyed Juncos, three different species of Goldfinch, and several Spotted Towhees. All are gathered for their morning ablutions and chatter fest.

This morning there is a special guest among the avian visitors. As a cool mist envelops the top of Sulphur Mountain, there is a rarely seen Hooded Oriole, the latest addition to the Meher Mount bird family. He repeatedly makes his appearance at the Hummingbird feeders to the delight of onlookers. The Oriole balances precariously on the feeder rim while sipping the sweet nectar with his long slender beak.

THE FIRST GROUP of bird watchers gathers by the pond ready to walk to Baba’s Tree at Meher Mount for a morning of bird watching. (Photo: Cassandra Bramucci, April 6, 2019)

THE FIRST GROUP of bird watchers gathers by the pond ready to walk to Baba’s Tree at Meher Mount for a morning of bird watching. (Photo: Cassandra Bramucci, April 6, 2019)

Spirits are high with expectation as the gates at Meher Mount are opened at 8:00 a.m.

Around 8:45 a.m., about a dozen visitors gather next to the pond with Rick Burgess, Karen Laing, and Robert Turnage to begin the first walk out to Avatar’s Point. Several raptors soar above their heads among the Coast Live Oaks (Quercus agrifolia) lining the pathway toward Baba’s Tree. The bird sightings begin in earnest. 

Throughout the morning, some 27 species make an appearance as the crowd of watchers grows to two dozen, then to three dozen.

FIVE RAPTORS — American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Red-Tailed Hawk, Screech Owl and Burrowing Owl — arrive at Meher Mount from the Ojai Raptor Center for Family Bird Watching Day on April 6, 2019. (Photo: Margaret Magnus)

FIVE RAPTORS — American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Red-Tailed Hawk, Screech Owl and Burrowing Owl — arrive at Meher Mount from the Ojai Raptor Center for Family Bird Watching Day on April 6, 2019. (Photo: Margaret Magnus)

RAPTORS DRAW EVEN MORE VISITORS EAGER TO SEE THESE BIRDS UP CLOSE

By the time representatives from the Ojai Raptor Center arrive with five ambassador birds around 11:30 a.m., the crowd has grown to over four dozen. All watch eagerly as raptor carriers are unloaded from the Ojai Raptor Center van and taken into the Visitor Center.

The Visitor Center count continues to swell as people take their seats with the volunteers hustling to add more chairs until the event becomes clearly “standing room only.” No one complains. 

One by one, Jaclyn DeSantis and Rio Vogt from the Raptor Center bring out each bird to explain its history, habits and characteristics. Each raptor – American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Red-Tailed Hawk, Screech Owl and Burrowing Owl – patiently waits for the audience to listen and take pictures.

There is joy in this room, the joy of a shared awe for the pulse of living things that allows us to be in their presence, close, enthralled, and adoring the beauty of the birds.

ROSIE, THE RED-TAILED HAWK, makes her appearance at Meher Mount for the Family Bird Watching Day, April 6, 2019. Jaclyn DeSantis (with Rosie on her arm) and Rio Vogt of the Ojai Raptor Center explain the habits of, and dangers to, five of these raptors, including Rosie, American Kestrels, Peregrine Falcons, Burrowing Owls and Screech Owls. In the background is the painting of Meher Baba at Meher Mount by Charles Mills. (Photo: Cassandra Bramucci)

ROSIE, THE RED-TAILED HAWK, makes her appearance at Meher Mount for the Family Bird Watching Day, April 6, 2019. Jaclyn DeSantis (with Rosie on her arm) and Rio Vogt of the Ojai Raptor Center explain the habits of, and dangers to, five of these raptors, including Rosie, American Kestrels, Peregrine Falcons, Burrowing Owls and Screech Owls. In the background is the painting of Meher Baba at Meher Mount by Charles Mills. (Photo: Cassandra Bramucci)

After the raptor presentation, some guests lunch on the Topa Topa Patio while others – having a bird-filled day already – return home. New visitors arrive for the afternoon hike.

AN ACORN GRANARY created by the Woodpeckers in the fence posts by the swimming pool/reservoir at Meher Mount. (Photo: Margaret Magnus)

AN ACORN GRANARY created by the Woodpeckers in the fence posts by the swimming pool/reservoir at Meher Mount. (Photo: Margaret Magnus)

NOT AN ACTUAL BIRD SIGHTING

On the afternoon bird walk led by Robert Turnage, the group pauses near the former swimming pool, now water reservoir, to observe bird behavior.

The Woodpeckers have drilled holes in the fence posts around the pool/reservoir to create a granary to store their acorns.

The Woodpeckers fill the hole that is just the right size for the acorn. As the acorns dry out, they are moved to smaller holes. Granary maintenance requires a significant amount of the bird’s time.

Scrub Jays also collect acorns, but bury them in the ground around an oak tree. Sometimes, they have difficulties finding these acorns, unlike the Woodpeckers.

A BIRD HOUSE painted and decorated by one of the younger birders visiting Meher Mount for Family Bird Watching Day, April 6, 2019. Volunteer Lisa Morrison organized the bird art table for the kids. (Photo: Margaret Magnus)

A BIRD HOUSE painted and decorated by one of the younger birders visiting Meher Mount for Family Bird Watching Day, April 6, 2019. Volunteer Lisa Morrison organized the bird art table for the kids. (Photo: Margaret Magnus)

THE BIRD ART TABLE DRAWS THE YOUNGER CROWD

The kids – many of whom were on the morning walk and watched the raptor presentation – migrate to the bird art table.

At the table, volunteer Lisa Morrison (whose own grandchildren are also at Meher Mount that day), organizes a bird-inspired craft project.

There are small wood birdhouses for the artists to paint and decorate with birds and butterflies. The young birders clutch these birdhouses and take them home as reminders of their time in nature with the birds.

A MYSTICAL QUALITY

We often ascribe to birds a mystical quality. Certainly, they are symbols of nature’s bounty and endless variety. They are elusive, yet they soar above in plain sight, perch on a branch, hop on the ground and flutter about so that we can catch a glimpse of them in their natural habitat.

For the trained ear, their songs vary though the patterns are clearly identifiable. Their favorite foods, habitats, nesting, and mating rituals are specific. Many birders spend their lifetime bird watching and adding to their “life list” of birds sighted.

“I like to slow down and become involved in the intimate space and timing of the bird. It is well worth it to watch their beauty,” says guest birder Duke Gribble, who has spent 30 years watching birds.

Others – who are just learning about birds – enjoy being in nature and marveling at this wonderful creation. “This whole creation, this nature, all the beauty you see, all came out of me,” said Avatar Meher Baba when He visited Meher Mount in 1956.

In all, more than 60 people were drawn to Meher Mount – many for the first time – to experience God’s beauty. And everyone seemed to report the same experience: “What a perfect day!”

A GOLDEN CROWNED SPARROW sits on a tree branch at Meher Mount. (Photo: Juan Mendez, January 2019)


A GOLDEN CROWNED SPARROW sits on a tree branch at Meher Mount. (Photo: Juan Mendez, January 2019)



SEARCH THE SITE


Fate of Baba's Tree Is Front Page News

Margaret Magnus

The news coverage started with Perry Van Houten, who had written an earlier article “Ojai’s Trees” for the Winter 2014 edition of The Ojai Valley Visitors Guide, which included Baba’s Tree as one of six trees featured. He approached Meher Mount for a story for a story about Baba's Tree after the Thomas Fire. His article, “Group mounting significant effort to try to save Baba’s Tree,” was published on February 2, 2018, in the Ojai Valley News.

Later, Claudia Boyd-Barrett, an Ojai resident and journalist who had visited Meher Mount before, contacted Meher Mount to set up an interview. She talked with Board President Sam Ervin, Manager/Caretaker Buzz Glasky, arborist Michael Inaba, and Interim Caretaker Cassandra Bramucci. Her story for the Ventura County Star,Baba's Tree, burned in Thomas Fire, fights for survival in Ojai,” was published on February 18, 2018.

Read More

Mehera's Message at the First Amartithi

Meher Mount

Amartithi - or Eternal Day - marks the day, January 31, 1969, when Avatar Meher Baba dropped His physical form. Tens of thousands of pilgrims gather in Meherabad, India, at His Samadhi (tomb shrine) and elsewhere around the world to commemorate this event. 

Mehera J. Irani was his closest woman disciple whom Meher Baba described as the purest soul in the universe. Meher Baba said she loved Him as He ought to be loved.

At the first Amartithi in 1970, approximately 1,700 of His lovers gathered on Meherabad Hill. Mehera, fighting back the tears, read out this message. 

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Musing on the Young Adult Sahavas: 2000

Ryan Brown

The following is excerpted with permission from “Musings on the Young Adult Sahavas,” by Ryan Brown, Love Steet Lamp Post, October-January, 2001 (1st Quarter 2001), pp.4-5. ©Avatar Meher Baba Center of Southern California.

The Young Adult Sahavas at Meher Mount from June 23-27, 2000, was a time of fellowship, service, and remembrance of Avatar Meher Baba.

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Manzil-e-Meem and the Gutta Breakfast

Margaret Magnus

Manzil-e-Meem was the Bombay residence Meher Baba used for His work with His close disciples (mandali) for about 10 months from 1992 to 1923.  Generally translated, the term Manzil-e-Meem means "the House of the Master."    

Taking inspiration from Meher Baba's gutta at Manzil-e-Meem, Fred Stankus has for years hosted a "Gutta Breakfast" in different venues. 

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The Topa Topa Patio Takes Advantage of the Views

Margaret Magnus

The idea for the patio first came about when the Board was planning for the Workshop. An early concept called for a workshop/garage built into the side of the hill with a rooftop patio in view of the Bluffs.

That concept proved to be too expensive, but the idea of a patio with a view of the mountains stuck.

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Guests Are Engulfed by the Clouds

Margaret Magnus

The weather report for Sunday, April 14, 2013, said “mostly sunny, 69 degrees, 10% chance of rain.”   

Invitations to the event that day - the "Don’t Worry, Be Happy” Ojai WordFest After Party - had invited everyone to come see the 360-degree views from atop the 2,500-foot level of Sulphur Mountain Road.

However, when volunteers arrived to set up for the event, Sulphur Mountain and Meher Mount were enshrouded in the clouds.  

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