This issue of Word of Mouth is a gift. As some may know, my world shifted in October with the sudden loss of my husband Gabe. This was followed by the devastating fires in our community. The ripples of this fire as we move from response to recovery may mirror my own healing. It will be a long process.
For now, my mind does not understand the shape of Gabe’s absence. We had known each other longer than we had not, and after twenty four years together we had just celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary. I know that this grieving process will include a thousand moments of heartbreak.
I also know that we knew how good we had it. We were giddy at our fortune. We had so much love and so much fun. We had a safe home and fabulous family (I love you Dave and Bonnie, Mat, Morgan, and Kyle), and a vast community of loved ones. Looking over our photos I am amazed at just how much adventure filled our brief time together: visits to Cuba, Thailand, Germany, Italy, and Peru, to name just a few. We hiked the Kalalau trail, visited the village of Madrigal near the Colca Canyon, and swam in the pools of Havasu Falls. These memories fill my heart.
Some of our happy times made their way into the pages of Word of Mouth. When I think about Gabe and I scrabbling over the tidepools in Mendocino as Terry d’Selki guided us on an excursion to gather seaweed, or delicately folding a phyllo dough confection using a recipe for two using Sulin Bell’s cookbook, it reminds me that this is why we love living in Mendocino County. It’s this lifestyle—a slower, simpler life, with a deeper connection to the food we eat and the communities which surround us—that Word of Mouth honors and celebrates. Our day-to-day lives may not always live up to that ideal, but there are golden moments that do, and I am grateful to have shared so many of them with Gabe.
So this issue is a gift to me because it was created to some extent without me, while I begin to heal my heart. In the midst of all this strife, the people of Word of Mouth stepped up and pulled it together. My partner in publication, Torrey Douglass, rearranged her own life to keep this boat afloat, and my dear friend and contributor, Anna Levy, balanced her teaching and counseling career to help with editing, writing, and contributor coordination. Ree Slocum has gone above and beyond to gather ads, write stories, and bring me chocolate from Bolliver’s.
And in large and small ways, contributors, readers, and supporters have shown up to lighten the load. We all believe in what we are doing here, and want to continue sharing stories of food and farming in Mendocino County far into the future. The fact that it’s carrying on even when my emotions, energy and abilities are all flying at half mast, moves me beyond words.
Yours in gratitude,
Holly Madrigal, Publisher