Opening Up with Spring – April 14

DR’s newest member, Julie, here with this week’s column. As I live my life, I often find that there are themes and lessons that are undeniably pronounced when I have the energy to think creatively about how interestingly life unfolds. For this week’s themes, I feel that both cycles and balance have been recurrent in my thoughts. We are but a few days away from our first visitor session of the season. Now that I have been here living at DR for a full year, experiencing the seasonal shift of swinging from a quiet and private fall and winter to opening our homes and lives to folks interested in living sustainably over the next 6 months is coming full circle. Our visitor sessions are a great way to inspire other people to take home the message of living more lightly upon the earth, and to recruit new members. At the same time, they remind us that we are doing something innovative and special, and I am looking forward to having my perspective renewed through the eyes of people seeing how we live for the first time. I am already enjoying the new residents and work exchangers who have brought along musical and artistic talents, as well as an obvious joy to be living here with us, even if they depart after a short stay.

Spring is typically a demanding time of year, brimming with irresistible urges to commence construction and gardening projects. Clay tamping for an entryway to Ted and Sara’s was dovetailed into a social pit-stop, and some felt inspired to offer a hand while chatting away. That particular experience was the perfect illustration of the marriage between work and play, and I hope to carry that ideal into my life in a more observable way. Designing a metaphorical time management plan where the limbs of work and social/fun time are fairly balanced has been somewhat of a challenge for me. Knowing when to stop building the fenced garden and raised beds, and when to create leisure time isn’t as easy as it may sound when you don’t have a clock to punch, or have specified hours of labor assigned to you. I’ve been so diligently plugging away at my projects that only when I stopped, did I realize how hard all of my fellow community mates were working right alongside me. I feel that I have caught “Spring Fever”, and have been so enlivened by the luxury of fair weather to pursue projects in, that I had almost forgotten to engage in all of the other lovely activities that accompany this time of year. Walking on the land has always been a favorite on-farm endeavor that I indulged in, and (successfully) hunting for morels was a true joy this past week. My suspicion of beginners luck was soon replaced by the title “Mushroom Master Extraordinaire” as my partner Dan and I gathered what he deemed was the most impressive collection of morels he has ever procured in his 5 seasons of gathering. This discovery of a new love brought me back to myself, as it’s easy to get lost in the melee of Spring. Rumor has it that multiple groups have gone out and found upwards of 30 mushrooms, but as to the locations of those treasures, well, we consider that to be a highly guarded secret.

Attempting to lead a life that is guided with the goal of sustainability can be anything but easy when faced with the obstacle of changing weather patterns. Unforgiving weather has had us scrambling to protect our gardens this week from the frost’s looming potential for destroying a portion of our livelihood. Spring that came a month early has left tender unfurled foliage vulnerable and in need of earnest attention in the face of such a threat. Row cover was in short supply as we devised creative ways to insulate plants with mountains of straw in the hopes that it was heaped heavily enough as to prevent the wind from whisking it away. We are hoping that this imbalance is a fluke, and that future gardening seasons will debut with the graciousness we have come to rely upon for our sustenance. If these anomalies become a seasonal pattern, we will surely need to develop new ways of protecting our trees and perennials in our pursuit to synchronize our actions as a careful and calculated response to our environment.

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and educational nonprofit in Rutledge, northeast Missouri, focused on sustainable living. We offer free tours to the public twice monthly from April-October. Our next tour of the year will be April 28th at 1pm. Meanwhile, for more information you can visit our website www.dancingrabbit.org, or give us a call at (660) 883-5511.