Susanna Salk


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Home Fires
Saturday, December 16th, 2017

When I heard about the Ojai fires I felt a particular sense of despair. Could these fires be impacting Patina Farm, a real life paradise created by Brooke and Steve Giannetti which @quintessence and I were lucky enough to visit last year? On that magical day, Brooke came out in jeans to greet us with her beloved Shih Tzus, hundreds of pale roses blooming around her. The home the Giannettis had created from scratch was as much stylish oasis as working modern farm as envisioned by a designer architect duo who happened to be married. Goats frolicked in a space nestled alongside Brooke’s serene home office, a resplendent chicken coop felt like a dinner party you wanted to join and Sicilian donkeys roamed the property with Zen like purpose. Lush garden vegetables practically pushed themselves into your hand as you walked past. Post shoot, I swung on their swing from the branch of a giant tree and soaring through the warm air, I saw a linen chair perched outside the master bedroom facing the hills: a gentle wind scattered rose petals down around it. And now Brooke’s Instagram showed those same hills licked with hungry frames. I was aghast at Patina Farm’s sudden fragility: surely the devotion and determination gone into creating it could stop the fury of this fire? But there were pictures of the animals being evacuated and Brooke and Steve leaving with no more than hope that when they returned Patina Farm would still be there. I went to bed in Connecticut wishing my snow fall could blanket those fiery hills. A few days later Brooke was hosting a live feed from her backyard. Fires were still burning and ash was omnipresent but Patina Farm was still standing. Relief was pouring in from all over the world in a steady steam of comments. It was a privelege to be able to be in the nerve center along side her even if it was only through phone screens. Brooke’s appreciative voice was still uncertain. Technology could connect all of our prayers for her in live time but all we could do was watch the fires burn together and collectively wonder. But Brooke made us feel like that was enough. Paradise doesn’t exist after all, unless it is shared.