The Enjoyment of Wine

The enjoyment of wine is the enjoyment of perfume in earth.

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The roses as they bloom in Morcom Rose Garden, Oakland

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The sweet, sweet wind across the last moment of the day. Late Summer. Northern California.

wine_001wine_002The Wine Regions of California, map by Obi Kaufmann

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Grand Fare Market, Oakland, California

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Freya Prowe, painter, florist and Proprietor of Grand Fare Market

This weeks portfolio of the best wines in the world, Vino on Piedmont, Oakland.

elixirs, perfumes and potions

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Treasured elixirs, perfumes and potions (from left to right)

<< Brooklyn Grooming >>

Anti Chaffing Oil; organic oils for problem areas

<< Alexis Smart Flower Remedies >>

“Whole Hearted” // flower essences, lovingly & magically blended

<< Dram Apothecary – Colorado Herbal Bitters – Wild Mountain Sage >>

Alcohol, water, wild Western Mountain Sage, gentian, orange peel

<< Agnes Baddoo // MANIFEST >>

therapeutic grade essential oils with colloidal silver & purified water

<< Workhorse Rye, Redwood Mesquite Coffee Bitters >>

Northern California meets Baja California, exclusive release for Desert & Denim

<< Kings Road Apothecary // Desert Lavender White Sage Digestive Bitters >>

Desert Lavender, White Sage, Cardamom, Calamas Leaf, Gentian, Orange Peel, Vodka, Organic Can Sugar

<< Juniper Ridge DESERT DENIM WASH >>

Apparel refresher from California’s Mojave Desert

Into the Mountains

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Again and again I am introduced to the Sierra Nevada; locals call it the Sierra. There is only one, it is not the Sierras. In a few weeks, here at 8000′, we will (please oh please) be covered with snow and again it will appear as the vision of Pedro Font, the Spanish missionary who named the range in 1776; the first named and mapped mountain range in North America. The spirit-home of all that I do. 

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I’m mountain born. Occasionally I find myself as a desert rat, and I enjoy masquerading as a coastal lurk; but I always come up here to get the thing I need: the miles of perspective I have such an appetite for. Up here, the poems become tools – the words morph into hammers and binoculars, boots and tents.

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My rig these days

HAVSTAD HAT – Cate made this hat early on in her career. It fit me so well that she has named the profile “The Obi.”

FROST RIVER – Some folks don’t enjoy the weight of these packs. I appreciate how rugged they are. The perfect Weekender.

WINTER SESSION – Leather wallets, pen holders, and brush holders that have the archivality I require.

DANNER BOOTS – Trust your boots; it means everything.

BALL AND BUCK – I’ve been carrying the same dopp kit around for years. I usually pack with two or three kits.

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After a few days, when cities become oddities and tonight’s camp settle into the home it has always been, each piece of equipment becomes a treasured object in my collection, and forever the thing I miss most and remember best is the laughter of friends. 

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The camp at the end of the earth; just a sweet speck of home; One of the world’s most perfect moments where I can bury my heart just long enough for the moon to make its round and for the red horizon to flip across my smiling eyes. 

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Bent over Heaven’s sculpt –

breaking the locked heart,

the sweet sun taste

and the silent, still earth.

Summer across the roof of California

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The whole place, built on accident and trajectory,

not deliberation;

rhythms of lighting mirror themselves, a million years before.

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There has never been a time when I have not known this place.

More so than the maps I pour over, the names and networks of these living narratives

have always represented the baseline with which I reach out to the rest of my own existence.

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My own brand of natural history study is a dance in the mirror.

I don’t generalize myself; I don’t subtract feeling from experiment;

I take the time for minor exception; I am fascinated by individualization over generalization.

More where art lives than science.

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On top of the mountainous prism;

separated into cut colors;

core pillars in the cooling light, I got hearts for eyes for days.

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Life is not fragile, although its temporal forms may appear to be;

we are surrounded by the winners in the long, tedious game of evolution.

The study of naturalism is the study of a network of abiding resilience and endless forms of stamina-based,

frugal modes of ingenious, preserving, survival strategies.

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After a few days, when cities become oddities and tonight’s camp settles into the home it has always been,

when each piece of equipment becomes a treasured object in my collection,

I forever find the thing I miss most and remember best is the laughter of friends.

A new vision of Storytelling

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What is Storytelling? The working definition I’ve written is “…the demonstration of struggle, creative or otherwise, before a community, with the intention of imparting and sharing both information and wisdom.” Storytelling is a tool. As a artist, an activist, and wilderness-guy, I am preoccupied with what a tool is?  Definition 1 in any dictionary is something you make utility with. A tool is something full of potential. I’ve recently drafted a long list (see it at in the sidebar of this website), or more to the point: I’ve drawn a big-circle… Progressive types. Friends. Family. All of whom have been bitten by this tiny, passionate contagion that compels them forward, keeps pushing the envelope. Maniacs all; full of hope in the morning that what they are doing is good, although completely outside the box. Independents. Freedom-seekers. Wanderers. Storytellers. All heroes of mine. Creatives who have influenced me deeply, all of whom I have worked with on some, beautiful thing, and very much looking forward to working with again soon.

The Sustainability of the Juniper Ridge White Sage Harvest

The Sustainability of the Juniper Ridge White Sage Harvest

by Hall Newbegin, edit by Obi Kaufmann

Sustainable is a flabby word and is over-used these days. That being said, I would like explain how Juniper Ridge, the company I (Hall Newbegin) started nearly 20 years ago, harvests white sage and how this is a 100% sustainable product. We’ve been going back to the exact same wild gardens, all on private land and with permission, every year since the start of the company. For the first ten years, I did this kind of work all by myself. We’re talking about wildharvesting this maybe 200 acres or land. The reason we’re able to go back to the same place every year is that white sage (Salvia apiana) can be harvested sustainably indefinitely.

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All mint family (laminaceae) plants are adapted to grazing by animals because they’re usually pretty tasty, and so they generally respond to pruning with vigorous new growth. If you clip a white sage cluster in the fuzzy, apical meristem tip of the clusters, two or three new clusters will be there the following spring. There are some unethical crews out there who harvest by chopping the plant off at the base of the plant. This is certainly a more efficient method of harvesting this plant, probably on the order of 5x to 10x cheaper than doing it by our method, but has also resulted in clear-cutting of entire fields of white sage.

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This method of harvesting the tips of the stems in the living apical meristem area not only doesn’t kill the plant, but also encourages vigorous growth and generally plants that have been harvested end up being much larger and more vigorous looking than ones that weren’t. This isn’t surprising when you consider its strategy against grazers: for most of its evolutionary history, these soft tips were munched by the ungulates of prehistoric California for millions of years.

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The main harvesting fields aren’t on public land. Salvia apiana grows in a narrow range from the southern Santa Lucia Mountains of the central coast of california through Northern Baja mexico. The fields where most of the wild white sage in the world comes from is in no man’s land: the inland empire in the Los Angeles Basin from San Jacinto to the San Bernadino range. When I say “no man’s land”, I mean behind suburbs and Wal-Marts .. we have access to pristine, private land that nobody else even goes to, so we can control the harvest, and monitor how our activities are affecting the plants and the habitat.

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You should always be skeptical of us business types. I am always deeply suspicious when biz types say “oh yeah, of course we have your best interests at heart and we’re taking care of …” plug in whatever-cause here… I’m in business to make money – ha! I’d be a liar if i didn’t own up to this, the most obvious of facts for anyone who runs a business. But I also do what i do because i’m a wilderness freak and I love making things that connect people to places and to deep, quiet experience of being out on the trail – it’s like a religion to me. I often take the Juniper Ridge crew out to do trail work in the numerous places, I have way more habitat-restoration/weeding-projects going on Mt. Tamalpais, where I live, than I can do. Furthermore, through Juniper RIdge, I wrote checks for $22,000 to wilderness defense groups last year; we received the 2015 The Conservation Alliance award for Outsanding Wilderness Protection Partner for our work on preserving 330,000 acres of coastal wilderness in California (the Snow Mountain Berryessa National Monument that the Obama administration designated as such two months ago). One of the primary goals of this business is to take the money we make and put it back to work, protecting the wildlands that have given me so much.

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Skepticism is important, and I wouldn’t blame you one bit for thinking i’m full of shit: I would be happy to take any of you both to our harvesting spots where we get permission to harvest and take care of those places like gardens, and the free-for-all that’s happening in the big sage fields in the Los Angeles basin. I’ve been harvesting white sage for almost 20 years now, I’m probably one of a dozen people in the world who knows all the harvesting crews, harvesting spots, who the good players are and who are the bad ones … I know this stuff backwards and forwards, I love love love native plants and I want you to see for yourselves – email me (hall@juniperridge.com) and we’ll set up a tour next spring when the harvest starts up again!

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This is an important conversation; the crews that clearcut the white sage fields needs to be stopped – I know their bosses are driving them to do it because they want cheap sage; I know both their bosses and the crews; I’ve brought it up with them in the fields. It’s grody, and it needs to stop and it is clear that more monitoring of the open-land fields is necessary, as they are just getting totally hammered, all for a marketplace that’s hungry for $7 smudge sticks.

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