Fog loves Summerland, lingering on our doorsteps, caressing the hillsides long after it’s deserted Carpinteria and Montecito. I used to joke that there was a fog vacuum on Ortega Hill that sucked the long, misty streamers into town. Lately, the fog machine has been fully operative.

Truth is, this long, unusually cool summer has made me grouchy. I spent all my kid summers in the Central Valley, which imprinted on me the idea that the season should offer ample sun and heat. I miss the buoyancy, the hit of high summer gladness when my days are marked by fog sheeting and sandaled feet growing cold.

Fort and Field

The newest business to make a downtown appearance in Summerland appears to be close to opening. The store, which occupies the former Cantwell’s market space, has been months in remodeling. The wooden exterior has been painted white with black trim, which seems to be the color-scheme of choice for businesses offering what I would have to call “decorator” items.

In this case that would be items for home and garden, which is reflected in the name--Fort for home and Field for garden. Along with the home and garden items, they will sell party and packaging supplies and fashion apparel and accessories.

On their website, the highlighted items were striped cotton bakers’ twine (a 3,400-yard spool for $24), gingham paper cones (shown containing popcorn) and pink circle paper doilies.

I dunno. I can remember when the whole town showed up for the grand opening of an actual grocery store, Cantwell’s. Massive rejoicing to have a store that would fill a need for ordinary Summerlanders.

For all its updated farmhouse charm and cute craftiness, I doubt many locals will become Fort and Field habitués. Unless, of course, they keep their promise and retain the deli-sandwich shop that was so popular at Cantwell’s. There were rumors this would happen.

Still, another new business represents a healthy addition to the continued revitalization of downtown Summerland, which is a very good thing.

Slow pizza

Rusty’s Pizza is another example of a remodeling project unrolling at a sloth-like pace. Evidently it took months just to get the permits required to turn the former beloved snack shop Stacky’s into a pizza joint.

Permits have been followed by months of deconstructing, with the rebuilding yet to begin. It’s a sad thing to drive by, even with a green screen covering the scanty framing that remains—just a few two-by-fours framing the former door and windows.

When I emailed Rusty’s CEO Tyler Duncan, he responded that the structure was in worse shape than anticipated, so they had to get additional permits and do more cement work. Framing should commence now, he said. Pizza by Christmas?

Mujeres Collective

Mujeres is the Spanish word for women, and I’ve been curious about the shop with this name that operates in the space of the former Bonita, next to the Summerland Winery. So, I stopped in for a visit with manager Nina Heiden.

The store is like a maker’s market, she explained, featuring all female vendors, most of them local. They sell clothing for women and kids, jewelry, accessories, skin care products and decorator items such as pillows and rugs, along with some vintage clothing and home items.

The vast majority of their merchandise is handmade. Exotic materials, such as carved wooden kitchen items and cloth fashioned into bags, cushions or clothing are sourced in Uganda, Chile and other countries, with vendors traveling to those countries to contract with local artisans.

The Collective has hosted workshops in embroidery and jewelry making. The next workshop, Aug. 24, by GARA Skincare, will introduce the uses of cannabis, with information on how derivatives such as CBD work both internally and externally.

The small store is comfortably stocked, but Nina says they are always looking for new artists and vendors.

Food truck in our future

Leslie Person Ryan of Letterperfect/Summerland Center for the Arts has a new endeavor, a foray into food preparation. She recently returned from Oaxaca, where she attended a cooking school specializing in regional dishes. The grand plan is to prepare and serve Oaxacan style food from the food truck Leslie has already purchased.

The food truck, now being retrofitted, must await permit approval by the county before it can start serving fresh Mexican dishes from a spot in the parking area adjacent to the store. Our mouths may be watering at the prospect, but the truck won’t be serving for at least five months.

One good thing: The return of the California condor—with the 1,000th chick hatched as part of the captive breeding program.

Fran Davis is an award-winning writer and freelance editor whose work appears in magazines, print and online journals, anthologies and travel books. She has lived in Summerland most of her life.

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