miss september has her feet on the ground and her head in the clouds
Mesina Miller is one of those Southern Californians who so love the great outdoors that they refuse to leave it in its proper place, turning apartments into house-plant jungles and glass menageries. Mesina has the usual assortment of cats and dogs -- her newest acquisition is a scraggly parakeet, a real-life Woodstock, that she bought for a dollar at a swap meet. Wandering around a converted drive-in theater on a Sunday, bargaining with the gypsy craftsmen who sell their goods from the backs of old Dodge vans, she spied a tiny ball of feathers in a shoe box. "I just had to rescue the poor thing," she says. "Fortunately, it was young and has responded to care. It has learned to talk, and if you're nice, it will let you kiss its little beak." Before you tar and feather yourself and climb into a box, chances are you won't find Mesina at that swap meet again.
For a self-described homebody, our lady moves around a lot. Maybe this weekend she'll disappear across the Mexican border to a little town on the Baja for a few days of horseback riding. Picture her: hair flying, one hand curled in the mane of a stallion, racing the waves, shedding clothes for a dash into the surf. Catch her if you can. Perhaps she and a friend will throw a tent into a dune buggy and go camping in the desert. Come winter, she'll trade the tent poles for ski poles and the desert for the slopes of Lake Tahoe's Heavenly Valley. "I'm a few-people person," says Mesina. "A good friend and a good day are all I need to be happy. There is something profound and beautiful about the exhaustion you feel after riding, camping or skiing together. Curled up with some hot spiced wine, by a warm fire, you can't help but feel tender and loving."
On weekdays, Mesina tends her several careers -- modeling and real-estate sales among them. Most of the time, she balances the books at her stepfather's flying school, learning about the business and taking advantage of the free lessons. She already has enough flight time under her scarf to qualify for a pilot's license; now she's focusing on aerobatics. "It's the most challenging way to fly," she claims. "The best thing about it, though, is that you get to fly the old planes. The new models can't take the strain of loops and rolls. I wish they still allowed barnstorming." We hope you're listening, Waldo Pepper, wherever you are.
Photography by Bill Figge, Mel Figge, Suze Randall