A Greater Us: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Hello, friends!​ ​Tereza here, finally back home after a ​short stay in Chicago, IL, and ​two weeks each in ​San Antonio and Austin, TX​.

I began writing this on a lovely Sunday morning​,​ ​​the day after ​Sandhill​’​s annual May Day celebration, and the village ​was quiet​, save the birds, both ​wild and domestic​, singing and chirping and clucking and crowing their way into the day… There was a deceptively calm feeling in the air, and ​it was easy to ​sense the underlying busyness of ​a Dancing Rabbit spring just under the ​surface.

Our second crop of this season’s visitors arrived Sunday afternoon and evening, and I was glad for the chance to talk with a few of them at dinner, which was prepared and hosted by Christina and kindly offered to Rabbits who wished to hang out with visitors. It was a tasty meal, and I must say I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many sprouted lentils in one place!

The visitors seem like a good group, judging both from my brief interactions with them and their questionnaire responses. To explain that last bit: everyone who applies to visit Dancing Rabbit fills out a questionnaire with information about themselves: why they want to visit, what they hope to get out of their time with us, are they interested in possibly living here, and so on. Pertinent pieces of their responses are sent out to Rabbits to read before the start of each visitor session. I know some people don’t usually read them, but I always do. If nothing else they offer a conversation starter: “Pat, nice to meet you! You’re the pet-sitting bodyworker urban permaculturalist, right?”

I also find these responses help me know how best to answer visitor questions, as someone who wants to live here is likely to need a different kind of answer to many questions than someone who wants to start their own community, or someone whose visit is primarily motivated by a desire to learn about, for example, green and natural building. [Pro-tip: If ever you apply for a visitor session (or have done), keep in mind that some of us will read and pay attention to what you write there. And also don’t worry, some people don’t.]

The weather has been wonderful almost the entire time I’ve been home, which is very welcome. Texas had a cool spring (for Texas) but it was plenty warm enough for me, and I was extremely glad to miss the two (TWO!) snowstorms in April (APRIL!) back home in NEMO, and entertained from afar an irrational fear that it might never warm up. But it has, and been remarkably pleasant. The storms have been few, the rain much needed, and everything is greening up nicely.

Folks have been busy in their gardens, plugging away at all the necessary tasks involved in growing good things to eat and use and look at. I can no longer manage much of a garden myself, but the three raspberry plants Ted put in my yard last year that appeared not to survive the dry spells (and my neglect), have come back and are looking quite happy. My rescue hosta (saved from a spot in Alyssa’s garden that simply did not work for it) also just unfurled its first leaves, and my Ted-pruned peach tree is looking pretty good too. Last year I also forgot to water a bunch of hazels Thomas planted near my place, and they all succumbed. Luckily he likes me enough to offer another chance, so I transplanted a single hazel stick from him in the same spot, and hope to do a better job of caretaking this year.

Last week included a multi-day visit of a group of students from Scattergood Friends High School with their chaperones, former Ironweed work exchangers (aka wexers) Kelsey and Chelsea. The students sure seemed to be having a great time, and it was fun for me to connect with Kelsey and Chelsea. (Update: From closer-hand report it sounds like they did indeed have a great time, and learned a lot too, wanting more plant walks with Sammy Jo and hoping to start a pollinator garden at their school!)

Another big event of the week, for some of us at least, was the arrival of a new refrigerator. The old Ironweed kitchen co-op chest fridge did a great job for many years, but finally conked out sometime last year. After much research and conversation it was decided to replace it with an upright fridge with two sections. One section for the kitchen to use, and the other serving as a place to store goat co-op products. Yes, soon it will be time for all-goat-milk, all-the-time. (Slight exaggeration based on how it seems to feel for the humans doing the milking.) I love the goats, their products, and their delightful-to-watch antics, aaaaand I for one will welcome no longer needing to move giant gallon jugs of their milk in order to get to my tasty leftovers at the bottom of the chest fridge…

Sometimes it takes a village to move (and use) a fridge. Photo by Tereza.

Some of the many awesome things about living here are impromptu work parties to help do something we can’t do on our own, such as the one this week hosted by Ted for the heavy and bulky fridge. This involved transferring it from the delivery truck to our truck, driving truck+fridge down toward Ironweed, transferring the fridge (using the tractor) from the truck to the ground, and then onto a big industrial-sized dolly, then moving it the rest of the way to the kitchen, and putting it in place. I was present for only a small part of the process, trying to stay out of the way while taking pictures and offering encouragement. Thanks and cheers to the goat co-op members, Ironweed folk, and very kind neighbors who did the hands-on labor on this unwieldy project!

I can’t help but think of the whole process as a symbol of how we often do things differently here. There’s a lot of research to figure out the best/most eco option, we consult our neighbors to see if/how we might be able to share resources, and then we all pull together to make the whole thing work, as we are able. On this one, I knew I wasn’t physically able to help, but I could take a picture to share with our readers. And now I’m waxing poetic about the experience. That’s gotta be worth something, right?

Another important event this week was Ellie’s birthday, celebrated with cake in the Common House and a dance party in the Casa. I remembered this event only when I heard the music as I walked a nearby path, where I encountered Ellie and Michelle, both possibly full of cake (assertion based on what looked like a rather remarkable amount of frosting on their faces). Remembering my manners, I wished Ellie a happy birthday, and Michelle gleefully told me “She’s four!!” I loved that her level of glee was no less than it would have been for her own such tremendous occasion.

A personal highlight of my week was returning to song circle. Almost everyone from the Scattergood group was there, plus lots of regulars, so it was a big circle. For me it was double fun: not only the fun of singing with new people, but also, after the Scattergooders took their leave, the fun of singing with the regular group, which I’d missed more than I realized. It doesn’t always happen, but this week it did. The magic: singing with a group of people who’ve been singing together for a really long time, and suddenly everything changes. I/we become bigger, become something altogether different, a new and better entity, a “Greater Us,” if you will. No matter how many times in my life I experience this magic, I still manage to forget how good and necessary it is for me, how singing with others soothes my soul and helps me feel connected and supported and alive.

Reflecting on this reminds me of how excited I am about the singing event we’re hosting this fall—check out our webpage about Singing Rabbit if you’d like to join us, and maybe you too can feel the magic of connection through song.

Another upcoming event I’m excited about is the Timberframe workshop, happening in June. I admire that form of building so much, not just for the beautiful results, but for the attention to detail and amazing craftscoship (a word i just made up to be gender-neutral that also strikes me as kinda cute and that I like a lot. Feel free to spread the use of this word around the globe. This is how movements start, people!). There’s also something extra-special about working on a building project here. Forever after when you return (or if you live here), you can say: “I helped with that!”

When I first visited Dancing Rabbit in 1998, I helped lay out the foundation lines for the Timberframe (one of the first buildings at DR), and when I returned in 2000 for a women’s plaster workshop, I helped plaster it. I still feel proud about that (though in all honesty that plaster was an experiment and most likely didn’t last much beyond that winter), and often think of it when I’m in or near that building.

One more event I want to mention, perhaps of most interest to local folks, is the Milkweed Mercantile’s Mother’s Day brunch this coming Sunday. This will be the first one in recent memory I’ll miss, as I’m going to be in a weekend workshop, but I know it’ll be tasty. Spots are limited, so call soon if you want to go, and if you do, please eat one of Alline’s amazing biscuits with homemade jam for me!

In closing, I’m feeling grateful for the spring beauty, the many warm welcome-home embraces, and connection with neighbors and friends.

Tereza mentioned a few awesome upcoming events; to see the full range, check out CSCC’s Sustainable Living Visitor Program and Workshops and Events, and the Milkweed Mercantile’s Workshops page!

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