It was a pony ride that made a very young Mark Pasternak fall in love with country life. He was two-year-old boy growing up in Los Angeles when he visited a ranch, set on the animal’s back, and felt a connection.
“I knew from that moment that living in the country, and being near animals and nature was where I wanted to be,” Mark says.
Now 60, he lives with his wife and daughters on a Nicasio, Calif., ranch he purchased in 1971 so he could live in the country and focus on agriculture. “I enjoy living in a rural environment where the beauty and tranquility of nature are close at hand.”
Mark’s youngest daughter was born on the family’s back porch “under the sky and trees with the only the local wildlife as our midwives.”
His ranch is north of San Francisco and close to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), Samuel P. Taylor State Park, and nearby Point Reyes National Seashore.
“My favorite outdoor activity is horseback riding,” Mark says. “I have ridden to Limantour Beach numerous times, Bolinas, and Point Reyes. I have had some wonderful buggy rides out to Olema for dinner at a restaurant there, and many horseback rides to the local restaurant in Nicasio.”
For more than 15 years, he jogged almost daily from his ranch through the GGNRA to Samuel P. Taylor State Park and back.
“Being exposed to, immersed in, or in proximity to natural landscapes helps give me a sense of well-being. It reminds me of our interconnection with nature,” he says. “It feels me with joy and awe to witness the ever-changing beauty and splendor that Mother Nature exudes. The many different facets of the natural environment are truly wonderful and inspiring.”
Mark says it is hope that people will recognize the importance of nature and wilderness, but he believes in a healthy balance. “It is not realistic, or even desirable, to think that every inch of land must be restored to its original pristine ‘wilderness’ condition,” he says. “Therefore, we must make informed, mindful decisions as to how to interact with, and manage, the open lands and wilderness that we still have in a way that also recognizes the many needs of humanity.”