I pulled up to Lombardi Ranch today not certain as to what I would encounter. A couple of days after the aftermath of the Buckweed fire. It burned a dozen or more homes and structures in it's path including Mr Lombardi's childhood home and what was to be his daughters home.
I stepped out of my car just as Mr Lombardi was pulling out on a tractor. I introduced myself and shared with him the fact that my daughters and I had just a week or two earlier visited his farm and bought pumpkins and enjoyed the whole experience of being there. It is the experience of being there with those you love your kids as they light up with all the wonderment and endless possibilities many of us lose as adults..
I had to fight back tears as I was overwhelmed with emotions at the thought that my kids might never enjoy this experience again. Another Icon of days gone past like the Drive-in movies that I used to go to with my family. I share that drive-in experience with my kids but they don't get it, I cant blame them, but some of you out there might know what I mean.
Mr Lombardi was gracious enough to take time out to share his thoughts and to allow me to photograph the farm in the aftermath of the Buckweed Fire as there was a whole lot of clean-up to do. Mr Lombardi was able to share some insight as to the future of Lombardi Ranch. He's thinking he may want to retire. He wants to pass the torch on to his kids. He would rather have them take care of the storefronts and all the other attractions and just focus on growing the crops. That's what he wants to do "retire" some folks would call that work. This part of town is still somewhat rural yet close enough to enjoy the "city" Although I didn't grow up on a farm or in the Midwest. I was raised in Southern California but with Midwest values. Those like when a farmer needs help, the neighboring farmers come to help. You take care of each other.
In our struggle to make a living to impress our neighbors who in some cases you don't even like. We don't have time for our neighbors anymore it's a dog eat dog struggle, survival of the fittest! Some of us don't even know our neighbors even after years of living within a rocks throw from each other.
This farm represents more than a weekend of pumpkin hunting and rides. It represents the values of hard work, family, neighbors, and community. It is my hope that should the reins get handed down, that the Lombardi family knows it's more than pumpkins that draws families to this ranch each year. It's the experience of families doing something together in an era of electronic devices and other distractions which don't always bring us together.
I would hate to add the Lombardi ranch experience to the drive in, and other stories I bore my kids with.
I would like to extend my hand in gratitude to the Lombardi family for the years of joy they have brought upon families here in the city of Santa Clarita. I also would like the family to know that I will assist in any way in helping them prepare for next years crop should the need arise?. I can help in so many different ways, how about you neighbor?
10/31/2007 update: The Buckweed Fire burned Approx 38,300 acres at a cost of $7.4 million to suppress. The origin of the fire was traced back to a local child playing with matches.
10/31/2007 The Daily News in coordination with Valleynews.com included this blog in their newspaper page A6 titled "It's more than pumpkins that draw ranch visitors"