Prairie Singing Rabbit

Weaving Songs: My Dancing Rabbit Voice

As the van pulled onto the driveway and past the “sing” signs, I could feel a knowing and growing excitement in the pit of my stomach. This was it: Village Fire, the largest singing event I had ever attended, last year. Now I was here again.

Prairie soaking up the songs and music at Singing Rabbit last year.

Prairie here, to tell you about my experience singing last June, and my pure excitement for Singing Rabbit, our very own singing event here at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, which gathers this Labor Day weekend!

When my family drove past the greeters, my heart began to beat faster. I had already recognized two of the people. As soon as the engine was off, I flew out the door to hug the people I knew and introduce myself to those I didn’t. I felt right at home by the time the opening circle began. (Someone even let me use their air pump for my mattress because I had forgotten mine.)

After an introduction, full of gratitude and excitement, the first song was taught. My heart felt more ready to sing than my vocal cords, as I hadn’t practiced or prepared for this beforehand, but that didn’t seem to matter. Everyone’s voices flowed beautifully together, even if I fell out of key or tried a harmony that didn’t resonate. The richness of the circle simultaneously allowed for individual experimentation and deep connection with one another.

There are so many  stories I could share from my latest singing adventure. The one that jumps out most prominently for me was when I taught a song to more than fifty people. There was a growing pressure in me to teach a song that I wrote last winter. A few friends of mine from Dancing Rabbit and elsewhere had heard it and sung it with me before, but now I wanted to feel it expand with the voices of dozens of people. I already taught two other originals that day to smaller groups, and received grateful and encouraging reception, but nothing could prepare me to teach such a large crowd.

It was the last night-circle of the event; I knew it was now or never. I stood, crossed to the center of the tent, and walked around the fire. My hands were shaking. I tried to remain steady as I met the eyes around me. I jumped right in and introduced the song, (forgetting to do the same for myself). I was surprised how clear and strong my voice sounded to my own ears. I led the first and second parts even as I heard little whispers of doubt in my mind: People aren’t interested, you’re not teaching it well, they don’t like the song. I kept singing. And so did everyone else. The heat from the fire, coupled with everyone’s gazes, felt overwhelming. I belatedly remembered the third part, and with the last of my cracking voice, taught it. I could barely speak by the time we ended the song. But I finally did it. 

I was relieved to sit back in the circle and feel people’s eyes slide away from mine. The silence after a song feels profound and respectful, like we are honoring the space it opened in our hearts to let it in. I wanted to pitch my song out of my brain and into an ocean far away, so I didn’t have to recall my failure at teaching it, but I soon forgot my troubles as the next person stood to teach a song of their own, ready to show us all where they had been in a moment of their lives, through words, melody, and rhythm.

On the next (and last) day of Village Fire, people thanked me for what I had shared the previous night. At the time, I received the gratitude alongside my own scathing inner dialogue about my failure as a song leader. Now, though, I see things in a new light. I will never teach that song the way I did that night, because I am a different person now than I was then. All that was within me was held in those moments, never to be experienced exactly the same way again. Even if I felt nervous, doubtful and overwhelmed, I still tried my best. I moved with the fear and remembered the value that singing embodies for me: it captures the essence of humanness, raw and unimpeded by culture, race, age, and beliefs. I think everyone can sing, whether they like the way they sound or not.

All of these joyous moments and memories are held cherished in my heart, craving for more to be added — it makes the next two months of waiting for Singing Rabbit excruciating, as well as delightful, as I practice letting my inner songs weave their way out. I can’t wait to sit around the fire in my very own home and ecovillage to share songs, as well as community, in our intimate gathering of voices. I don’t plan to sound perfect for Singing Rabbit, and I hope to see you there too, with all your imperfections. 

Raspberries growing beside our community common house.

Observing Nature and One Another: A Dancing Rabbit Update

If I had the attention of hundreds of people, what would I say? What am I passionate about? What do I think is worth speaking? My friend Danielle recently prompted me with these questions, after hearing about my straggling uncertainties and insecurities about writing for Dancing Rabbit. Prairie here, concluding the end of the week with an honest look at my own values, and the world around me.

Raspberries growing beside our community common house.

Dancing Rabbit grows lush as planted projects flourish and new ones pop into existence: garlic hardens, strawberries ripen, Asian pears form in plentiful swathes with the sun’s lingering touch, and birds continue to nest. The Ironweed gardens have become more concise and accessible after weeks of weeding the sprawling jungle it once was. Tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers have since found their way into the ground, along with the last of our brassica starts and zinnia seeds. Our bed of baby kale, lettuce, tatsoi, mustard greens and the like has been producing steadily. Look at me, talking the garden talk! At this time last year, I would not have been able to identify half the plants around Ironweed.

With the garden well underway, rebuilding the south wall of Osage (Ted and Sara’s earthen home) is next on the list. This is the project I have been looking forward to most since agreeing to work-exchange for them. I hope to learn as much about natural building as I have learned about gardening.

I milked goats for the first time! Some mental notes I took on the experiences were: electric fences are more pleasant to handle when they are off, Alice is significantly easier to milk than Mocha, Curly Sue has quite the personality when she doesn’t want to go back behind the fence, and it’s wonderful to have another person around to hold the goats’ feet, so they don’t step in the milk pan. I have since garnered deeper respect and admiration for the rest of the Goat Co-op members for the hours of care they have taken in the process of bringing local dairy and meat to the community, as well as humbling gratitude for the goats themselves. It’s incredible how these beings can produce such rich and versatile food, and at one to two gallons a day! I feel excited to work to honor a strong value I have about humane animal treatment and locally sourced food.

This week I have felt moved to take in the world around me more fully. I have tried to embody a Permaculture principle I learned after I moved here: observe; a simple action with profound results. I also remembered another Permaculture saying: nature does not create expendables. Every leaf on every tree has a purpose. Every blade of grass grows for the whole. I kept looking. Nature values diversity. How many plants can one find in any given place at any given time? What shapes, colors, properties do they have? Our world is infinitely abundant in flora flavor, and equally so in fauna; the same is true with humans. No two people are precisely the same, and no one is expendable. We all have our individual potentials and purposes. We are unique from each other while we also dance to the same rhythm as this planet.

Our world is powerful: it can split the ground open, it can pour water from the sky for days, volcanoes erupt and rain fire; it is a force to be reckoned with, it gives life and death. While many natural disasters are caused by human impacts, I want to remember that even with our destructive influence, Earth holds profound wisdom and energy to be acknowledged.

How much would we learn, not only about the world around us and how to thrive harmoniously within it, but about ourselves? Maybe I am being unrealistically optimistic in saying that humans belong here too. Perhaps we can fit into this complex equation of existence just as steadily as beans weave around corn and blueberry bushes, not only to contribute to the soil and underground ecosystems, but to give fruit for animals and people alike.

Would you like to spend two weeks experiencing the lushness Prairie described? Join us from July 7 – 21 for tons of fun, good food, and a chance to learn about all dimensions of sustainability and community-living with tons of like-minded people. Don’t let the fruits of summer pass you by.