My Mendocino anniversary (happy Easter)

The first time I set eyes on Mendocino county was on Easter 2012, one year ago. I was on a three-week road trip through California, looking for farms where I could WWOOF. This road trip was the culmination of several months of life-changing decisions in which I quit my job, got rid of most of my belongings, gave up my incredible apartment in the Capitol hill neighborhood of Seattle, and decided to see if being a farmer was the fulfilling purpose of my life. I have never felt a more elated joy than on that road trip. I remember turning onto the 505 from I-5 around sunset and bursting into tears. Northern California radiated a welcome so powerful, it hurt.

Redwoods on the move

Avenue of the Giants

Napa vines

Napa vines

On my trip I visited 12 different “farms” (not all of them deserve the title, but each one was a unique and often funny experience). My stop in Ukiah – Redwood Valley, actually – was the last. I had been a little desperate that I wouldn’t find a suitable fit, but my second-to-last stop at a Petaluma farm was exactly what I was looking for. I made plans to return that fall for a three-month internship. Now it was just a quick trip to an Easter party I’d been invited to at a strange little homestead in Redwood Valley, and I would be on my way back to Seattle for a spring and summer of nannying my three-year-old godson.

Those plans changed quickly.

I fell in love with Mendocino at first sight. At this Easter party, baby goats were born. A 97-year-old sheep farmer was in attendance. And all the guests brought dishes using local ingredients, some out of their own early spring gardens. I settled with my understanding friends on the nannying score, and made plans to return to Mendocino in June.

baby goat

Holding my first goat

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I had finally found what I was looking for, and I never made it to Petaluma.

It turns out the farm life wasn’t what I was after, but it didn’t matter. I found my home and my heart in Mendocino, and Easter will be a special reminder of that every year.

Easter candy

This year’s Easter booty, courtesy of my thoughtful parents. Isn’t getting unexpected packages the best?


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