Celebrating the Holidays with Napa Valley’s Flora Springs and Jon Nathaniel

aren’t these the CUTEST reindeer ever?

“When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!'”
from a “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement C. Moore
(complete poem at end of post)

I always thought the line was dash away “home.” I’ve been thinking about home a lot recently because this is the time of year when people head home. However,  this has been quite the holiday season in Ventura County. Not long after Thanksgiving, the Thomas Fire ignited in two places near Thomas Aquinas College between Santa Paula and upper Ojai, and on that first night, consuming at times a football field a second, and an acre a minute. Overnight the hills behind my home burned, and then the fire continued in three directions: toward Ojai, Santa Barbara, and Fillmore.

The bad news is that, at almost 275k acres, the Thomas Fire is now the largest ever in California history. The bad news is that every day I find out about more people I know who not only had to evacuate, but many who returned home to find it gone, one of the over 1000 structures that were totally destroyed.

A simple question– how did you do in the fire? — leads to a story in every case from evacuations to illnesses to poison gases to the loss of everything except an old ice cream truck parked on the street, with the keys destroyed by the fire.

“We’re okay,” everyone says because the good news is that as catastrophic as this fire has been, there have only been two deaths associated with it. The other good news is that the fire is at 65% containment and the toxic smoke is not as bad as it was.


After two weeks of uncertainty, finally, people are out and about completing holiday shopping. Continue reading