by Bret Bradigan

“Keep your face always to the sunshine, and the shadows will fall behind”— Walt Whitman

Every time we assemble an issue, we are astonished by the coincidences and serendipitous moments that all have Ojai as their connective tissue. For example, Nathan McCuen told me a great story about the song “Ranch at Pooh Corner,” written by Kenny Loggins, first made famous by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, then by Jimmy Messina. Back in 2002, Nathan was thrust, on his 15th birthday, in front of 15,000 people at a Salt Lake City arena, to sing “Pooh Corner” with his dad, John McEuen. As if that weren’t enough pressure, he was opening for John Denver. “I’ve been hearing that song my whole life. That song has a lot of miles and a lot of stories attached.”

For confirmation, check out Mark Lewis’ story about the serendipitous coincidence that brought together Messina and Winnie the Pooh author’s descendents on the same Ojai ranch.

Speaking of stories, as Mark Frost reminds us with deft grace and poignancy, many Ojai residents have their own anecdotes about actor and director Bill Paxton, all richly describing his kindness and neighborly charm.  His premature death left a big hole in Hollywood, but in Ojai he left a gaping void. If you want to know how to live the Ojai life to its most satisfying essence, let Bill Paxton be your role model.

Misty and Logan Hall’s collaboration shows Marc and Julia Whitman, two hometown products, expressing their love for Ojai through their creative collaboration. It also a sweet story of a two romances that have Ojai at their heart.  Jesse Phelps’ feature on versatile artist Dennis Mukai also brings home this point, though it was love, not collaboration, which brought Mukai to Ojai. That is just a nice knock-on effect.

And as expected, but nonetheless appreciated, our wide-ranging columnists — Ilona Saari, Bennett Barthelemy, Sami Zahringer, Dr. Beth Prinz and Peter Bellwood — cover the Ojai waterfront with finesse, humor and human truth, each in their own distinct ways.

Without such a close, caring community, this magazine you hold in your hand wouldn’t be possible. We are supported by hundreds of local businesses and service providers. We at Team OQ do our best to reciprocate with stories that illuminate and deepen the Ojai experience. After all, who are we if we can’t share our stories?

Thank you for reading this far and please continue. I assure you the best is yet to come.