Magic can be defined as an extraordinary or mystical influence, charm or power. This past
summer, I had the pleasure and honor of working on the Mendocino Magic property, tucked away in the mountains of northern California. The property has all three extraordinary qualities, in abundance. As soon as you enter through the front gate, you wonder if you’re in the right place, especially at night. One can only think ‘mystical influence’.
Turning onto the moonlit stone road, completing a 13 hour drive from Salt Lake City and a 3,000 mile trip from Buffalo, New York, I arrived at Mendocino Magic with dry eyes and adrenaline pumping. I got out of the car, had a quick stretch of the legs and knees, and went straight to the fire pit where I found 10 other humans warming themselves from the cool spring breeze. I barely slept that night, overwhelmed with excitement to be in a new place and to start working on the property. In the morning, when the sun peaked over the mountains and the coffee maker kicked on, all five property cats were at the front door waiting for their daily ration. Quails, once raised on the property, fluttered about and woke up the rest of
the wildlife, including the campers. Waking up at sunrise at Mendocino Magic in the spring is charming to say the least, not to mention the fresh mountain air, lush green hills, and the warmth of the California sun. It is indeed magical.
My time at the property was designed as a work-trade. For the duration of my stay, I worked in
return for room and board. Timelines were drawn out ahead of time, and promises were kept. Each morning after breakfast and coffee, it was off to work. Jobs included construction, demolition, landscaping, housecleaning, safety patrol, garbage-man, dog-watcher, dog-walker, and assistant campground managing, just to name a few. Days were long, but the physical work was rewarding. Working didn’t feel quite like work. It seemed bigger than that, as if I were part of a bigger picture.
Throughout the summer I worked with Mackenzie (co-owner and land manager) and two other comrades, Reuben Garcia and Jeremy Banning. The four of us were the core of the Mendocino Magic staff for the summer festivities. Having such a small crew created both friendship and tension. I would say healthy amounts of both. It wasn’t until I returned home, that I realized how much I loved spending each day outside. Once back in the city of Buffalo, the only culture shock I experienced was how much of city life is spent inside, in man-made temperature controlled spaces. It’s a powerful thing to realize how spending quality time outdoors, in remote places, can heal just about any emotional or mental wound, and furthermore, learn to appreciate the planet we inhabit.
Working on the property was an unforgettable and a meaningful experience. What Mackenzie and the staff at Mendocino Magic are creating is not only a special place to camp, or to get married, or to have a business retreat, or to have a music festival, or to have a birthday party, but a place that reminds you of why life itself is magical.