As we were going to press a gloomy orange glow
had settled over the Monterey Bay, the result of
wildfires raging up and down the West Coast.
The dusky days were disorienting and frightening,
but for most of us the darkest times had come a
few weeks earlier when four devastating fires broke
out all at the same time in the Santa Cruz Mountains,
south Salinas, the Cachagua hills and Big Sur.
The chaos of those out of control fires—the
widespread evacuations, the smoke, the heat and
the raining ash—along with the exhaustion of dealing
with COVID-19 for the past six months and
the rage of Black Lives Matter protests combined to make a hellish stew.
It was almost too much to handle, but people rushed to help, not only first responders but
also chefs and farmers and loads of volunteers. All of you inspired us and that’s why we decided
to call this edition our HOPE issue.
You can read about some of those local heroes in our fire story on page 38. The rest of our
fall issue is filled with stories of hope. We intend it to be a kind of prayer or incantation, summoning
up better days ahead and showing us—through the beautiful words and photos of our
talented contributors—some of the ways we can get there together.
For example, we hope we can re-learn to live in a more harmonious way with the environment
and with our changing climate in the same way members of the local Amah Mutsun tribe are rediscovering
their heritage, through a program Laura Ness reports on in her story Native Traditions.
We hope we can better appreciate the abundance of our region, not just the plentiful farms
of the Salinas Valley, but also the bounty all around us, that Kathryn McKenzie discovers in her
story about modern day foragers.
We hope to see increasing biodiversity and less monoculture in the varieties of fruits and
vegetables that are grown around here and described in the stories about Birdsong Orchards
and John Cox’s ode to chile peppers.
We also hope to see increasing diversity in our local hospitality sector and are proud to spotlight
the hard work of three young Latinx sommeliers in Raúl Nava’s story Decanting Latinidad.
We hope that new efforts to reduce food insecurity can result in a healthier community, as
Mark C. Anderson examines in his story Doctor’s Orders.
We hope our lives can become simpler, cozier and more self-sufficient in ways new-mom
Caroline Chambers and homesteader Jessica Tunis reveal in their delicious recipes for skillet
pizza and homemade bacon!
We sincerely hope that all those whose lives, homes and businesses have been disrupted by
fires or by the pandemic will be able to return, rebuild and recover quickly under sunnier skies.
And finally, as the autumn days shorten and we finish up the harvest season, we hope that
our challenges will become easier to manage in the days ahead so that there will be plenty to be
grateful for when it’s time to carve the turkey and wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving!