I don’t think I’ve ever checked thermometers so religiously in my life. As a native Coloradoan I’m no stranger to the cold and snow, but this is my first winter at Dancing Rabbit and staying warm is a little more complicated than cranking up the thermostat.
This is Cameron, one of the newest residents here, I just arrived at the beginning of December. I’m not sure I would recommend moving here in the winter, but it’s been a remarkably soft landing for me. I’m living in a cozy strawbale house with an attached greenhouse and beautiful interior woodwork. My neighbor Hassan built the house, and we had a little wood chopping party yesterday where I got to pick his brain about natural building.
It’s been fascinating to see how various buildings perform in subzero temperatures. So much thought and energy is put into creating insulated spaces so we can sit in 70-degree bliss even while it’s -12 outside. The past few weeks were a moment of truth for a lot of these buildings. Those with radiant floor tubing and a wood-fired boiler have impressed me the most. Having a warm floor is so lovely, it’s a much more efficient use of wood because you’re heating mass rather than air, and most of these boilers make use of more of the BTUs in the wood than a regular wood stove. That’s what I’ve been learning anyways.
I’ve been dining with Thistledown kitchen and over the holidays we had quite a spread. My first night here Cob had made Konigsburger Klopse, or German meatballs. They were made from local beef, pork, and lamb, with turkey and duck stock to boot. I made some mozzarella and ricotta with milk from the dairy down the road and we had a lasagna that would make an Italian proud. Then Christmas came and so did the cookies and cakes and all manner of sweet things. Oh, and did I mention the ham and cheese souffle? Yes, it was ridiculously good. I love me some rice and beans and squash, but rich, hearty food sure makes a bitter winter feel warmer.
New Year’s was a hoot. Kyle cranked up the wood stove at his place so it was in the 90s. We came in swimsuits and had a beach party complete with NEMO-inspired cocktails (including the Hannibal Heatwave and the Knox City Knockout punch). I then made my way to Skyhouse where Aaron was DJing a dance party. I haven’t let my guard down and danced that much in a long time! Outside was the spectacle of the Stumpkin. With some creative chainsawing Kyle turned a rotted out stump into a flaming pair of faces. Never mind the low of -15, we had a lot of fun regardless.
In between all of the festivities I’ve had ample time for introspection. I have no idea what’s to come this year, and this winter has been good practice in sitting with the unknown, letting go of anxiety, and living it up. Wishing y’all a splendid 2018!
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.