An Autumn Picnic on the Coast
From farm to beach, one family’s food-centered journey through the wilds of Northern California
Letting go is easier said than done. Relinquishing the grip of urban busyness—the feeling that you’ve always got somewhere to be and somewhere better to be after that—for a life less dependent on constant stimulation requires a certain temperament (or at least a healthy leap of faith). For Seth and Kendra Smoot, the tradeoff between Manhattan and West Marin County, California, their home of just three months, is as simple as takeout versus farm-to-table. “In the city you have access to amazing food, but [getting it] is so much work,” says Kendra. “Here, good food is the only option.”
The couple and their two daughters—Stella, seven, and Imogen, two—are adjusting to their new surroundings with aplomb. Though Kendra, a food and prop stylist, and Seth, a photographer, spent the last 11 years in New York City, both grew up on the West Coast. Coming back is “sort of like muscle memory,” Kendra says with a laugh. “I could never say we traded New York for something better, but we traded it for something different, and it’s been really fun to explore that.” A 24-hour honor-system farm stand lies down the road; the kids grow their own produce at school; the beach, foggy or not, is a year-round retreat. Kendra has even taken to traveling with floral shears in her car, all the better to forage for wild eucalyptus.
“At first I was really shy about it—I kept thinking, what if I get in trouble?” she says. Now I just decorate with what I find.” It’s that kind of connection—a tangible joy at the immediacy of nature—that’s captured in this day in the life of a casual family picnic on the coast. Artifice is stripped away, and ingredients are allowed to shine in all their pared-down glory. “As a stylist, I love to make something beautiful, but it doesn’t have to be perfect,” muses Kendra. “In the end, it’s all about the food.”