As I sit reflecting on the past week, enjoying the polar vortex that has delivered an unseasonable chill (low 50s overnight is NOT normal for Missouri at this time of year), I can’t help but feel recharged and ready for new beginnings.
Cob here, with a spring in my step to match my internal sense of the season. There were many fresh starts this past week, not the least of which is the arrival of another visitor group, soon to be friends. I had the privilege of preparing food for their first breakfast together, and felt renewed by their tangible excitement to be here and experience all that Dancing Rabbit has to offer.
They are a widely diverse group, geographically, ethnically, chronologically, and in many other ways to be sure. I love seeing Dancing Rabbit afresh through their new eyes, and learning more about why they have been drawn here, and what they hope to take away with them when they leave in a few short weeks, planting their new knowledge and perspectives back home. Of course I hope that some decide to make their home here as well!
Alline held her annual birthday Silly Hat Party, giving out equally silly prizes for “Best Use of an Eggbeater” and similar unconventional categories of haberdashery. Folks new to this tradition generally draw from the usual pool of costume hats or re-purposed underwear, which are delightful in their own right, as any Monty Python fan can tell you. The veterans of this event continue to amaze with root vegetables, antlers or other bones, random found objects, and fantastical paper mache constructs. This event never gets old.
This past week our village hosted not just one, but two natural building workshops, taking participants through an accelerated course of how to plan such a building, the choices and trade-offs of different materials, basic framing and tool use (darn but speed squares are handy), working with straw bales, through to finish plaster techniques. Everyone got their hands (and feet) dirty along the way, but clearly enjoyed themselves tremendously.
I mostly interacted with these folks while tending bar, listening to them laugh about sore muscles, what they learned that day, and how much of an appetite they’d worked up. The cooks were busy all day every day to keep these groups fed and watered, with lots of fresh produce from our local gardens. Every workshop, regardless of its educational focus, feels ripe with fresh starts for everyone. (Click the links to find more information on Milkweed Mercantile workshops and Center for Sustainable and Cooperative Culture (CSCC) workshops.)
On a personal note, the Memphis Community Player’s run of Oklahoma! was fabulously fun and exhausting. Bittersweet though the closing may be, the restoration of so many hours back into my week feels like an expansive fresh start all of its own. Catching up on all the minutia I had let slide when I was too busy feels good, as does relaxing back into a more normal routine.
Part of that routine includes an every-other-week meeting of an Elders Group. By “elder” we don’t necessarily mean in terms of leadership or age, but rather in terms of life-stage or life-experience. This past week’s conversation focused on the intersections and differences between our own self-image/sense of age and the larger cultural assumptions or expectations of folks as they get older.
There are so many ways in which we shape our own experience, either by default, through accepting or internalizing other people’s expectations, or by conscious choice. Discussing and teasing those two things apart is actually kind of fun! I’m looking forward to more, and taking a fresh look at my own assumptions and expectations for myself as I (hopefully) continue to rack up more orbits around the Sun.
It has been hard for me to stay optimistic, between the political shenanigans in DC and around the country, the critical environmental challenges being waged, and the seeming weather-swap this year between April and July. It’s hard not to worry about what the future may hold, if not for me then for my children and their generation. Every fresh start is welcome. May your week bring you the new perspective or fresh beginning you need.
Are you looking for a fresh start in your sustainable journey? The Permaculture Design Course at Dancing Rabbit this fall might be just what you’re looking for. Plus the next 2 people to register will get a discount off the regular price!
Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and nonprofit outside Rutledge, in northeast Missouri, focused on demonstrating sustainable living possibilities. Find out more about us by visiting our website, reading our blog, or emailing us (dancingrabbiticorg) .