Baba’s Tree continues to grow healthy new branches — aided by the winter rains, the extra measures of care given over the past 18 months, and the love and prayers from around the world.
Consulting with ISA® Certified Arborist Michael Inaba, Meher Mount put in place a care plan starting in early 2018 for Baba’s Tree recovery and regeneration. One of the steps in the plan is sheltering the limbs with a fabric to help protect them from sunburn and pests while new growth creates a protective canopy. More than a year later, it was time for a new ‘sadra’ for Baba’s Tree.
A sadra (also sadhra) refers to a thin muslin shirt traditionally worn by Zoroastrians. Avatar Meher Baba adapted the sadra into an ankle-length garment which He regularly wore. Meher Baba said, “You have no idea what just one scrap of My sadra will mean to the world in the future.”
Baba’s Fireplace was part of the living room of the guesthouse at Meher Mount where Avatar Meher Baba met with His followers and gave darshan (blessing) on August 2, 1956.
Now, as Baba’s Tree’s remains in seclusion for several years while it recovers, Baba’s Fireplace and courtyard area are a more integral part of the visitor experience.
As a result, there is a greater sense of urgency to finalize and implement the plans to preserve Baba’s Fireplace and enhance the courtyard area.
Fire has been a visitor to Baba’s Tree and to Meher Mount more than once. The Thomas Fire shattered the tree’s crown and much of the trunk on December 4, 2017.
On October 14, 1985, fire ravaged and destroyed nearly all Meher Mount. A month after the New Life Fire, Baba’s Tree looked dead. It was black, leafless, and terribly scarred. The main trunk was hollowed out and black inside. Limbs over 30 feet in the air had burned. The great limb above Meher Baba’s seat had burned nearly through by the trunk with its furthermost branches fallen to the earth.
On Monday night December 4, 2017, sometime after 10:00 p.m. when Manager/Caretakers Buzz and Ginger Glasky evacuated, the Thomas Fire struck Meher Mount.
On December 6 and 8, Buzz and Ginger visited Meher Mount reporting minimal or no damage to structures and vehicles. The water system is out of commission due to the fire damage to pipes, electrical and equipment. Baba’s Tree at Avatar’s Point suffered major damage from wind and fire.
On December 12, Buzz and Ginger, Sam Ervin, Margaret Magnus and Cassandra Bramucci made a follow-up visit. Margaret and Sam share their observations.
Every year since Meher Mount’s founding in 1946, volunteers are tasked with making sure that brush is cleared away from all buildings to help protect Meher Mount and the environment from the threat of wildfires.
In May 2015, there was an extra effort to make the meadow – the Prasad Orchard – below Avatar’s Point more accessible to mowing equipment.
When the $40,000 donation was made, the donor specified that $20,000 be used to purchase a new tractor and $20,000 be used to build a "fireproof" garage/workshop to house the tractor.
The reason for the "fireproof" request was because on October 14, 1985, a fire had swept through the Upper Ojai Valley destroying all the buildings, equipment, and vehicles at Meher Mount.
I once traveled to Meher Mount for a work party after the fire. It was pouring rain.
I parked my rent-a-car near the work site. Agnes Baron [then caretaker of Meher Mount] jumped into the car.
The fire at Ojai happened on Monday, October 14, 1985. I attempted to call Agnes Baron on that day to no avail. Then, I heard the news from friends that Meher Mount had indeed been destroyed.
The following weekend, I flew down to Los Angeles and drove to Ojai to visit Agnes personally and make sure that she was well. I met her in town at the house of a friend of hers [George S. Stuart] who had taken her in after her devastation. Agnes appeared quite composed and peaceful.