In August 2020, our property in Ben Lomond, CA, was burned over by the CZU Lightning Complex Fire. In addition to a barn, play structure, trampoline, outdoor stage, and bar, we lost most of our small orchard and nearly a dozen bee hives, about half our total.
And many, many big trees.
But our house survived due to a bit of preparation, some unapologetic defiance of evacuation orders, and a lot of luck (mostly luck). Very many of our friends and neighbors were not so lucky.
We disappeared into the desert southwest for a few months afterward, hitting the road in an attempt to turn lemons into lemonade and maybe dig up a few dinosaur bones. And, to be honest, postpone spending our days face-to-face with our formerly green mountain, now burned and brown.
But eventually, you have to come back home to face the music.
Upon our return, it became clear that over 100 large fir trees were dead or dying and would end up being taken down. Our small forest, complete with stick-forts and a zip-line and dreams of Lost-Boy-level tree-houses, was gone.
So… what do you do with a meadow that used to be a beloved forest? A formerly shaded and sheltered place that now gets full, blistering sun?
You make a flower farm, of course.
Beeline Blooms is our attempt to create and share some beauty with our devastated community. To remember and appreciate why we still love where we live. To rise from the ashes, literally, and remind ourselves that just because things are different doesn't mean they aren't still good.
Karla DeLong is a professional homesteading instructor and an expert in gardening, beekeeping, food preservation, and flower arranging. She can also throw a mean bowl if you let her near a potter's wheel. She spent several years as a Therapeutic Nutrition Culinary Chef Instructor at Bauman College in Berkeley CA, and has worked at Mountain Feed and Farm Supply in Ben Lomond for over a decade, where she is a teacher of all things homesteading.
She and Jessica Tunis host the weekly Instagram Live show "Homegrown Happiness."