Hi friends! Prairie here from the newly frost-strewn planes of northeast Missouri.
Our twenty-second annual Land Day took place (thankfully) the Saturday before our first freeze of the season, though I have been feeling hints of winter’s nip in the grey skies, crisp winds, and clear atmosphere, not to mention the changing colors in scenery and falling leaves.
The celebration of Dancing Rabbit’s creation began with an opening ritual in which we acknowledged, with gratitude, the four cardinal directions. Individuals contributed objects from the land they appreciated and found meaningful. After, we took turns sharing memories and moments — both heavy and light — that we experienced at Dancing Rabbit with other people, plants, animals, water, the sky and the like.
Then (this was my favorite part), each year from 1997 to 2019 was announced and all who arrived at Dancing Rabbit during that time stood, until everyone was standing in the end. (I was very excited to stand when 2017 was called.) It was amazing to witness people stand, knowing how many Land Days they have been a part of this community, and how crucial their presence has been to shape the way it is now. We wrapped up with the stories of how DR came to be and how it has grown to its current state from beginning to end. At the end of each year’s stories people who were present would say: “we remember”, to signify that these memories of our community are being held by everyone, old and new.
After lunch, there was to be a land walk out on the prairie and then (surprise, surprise) it started raining. It all cleared up, though, for the next activity of the day: fris-lid golf. Slightly similar to disk-golf, this game involved gearing up with whatever protection from flying plastic objects one considered useful, gathering our five-gallon bucket lids (makeshift Frisbees) and pitching them in whatever fashion one desired toward a striped hula hoop (the goal) while cringing and laughing at the hopelessly off-course trajectory of the lids. Note: this sport is not like ultimate Frisbee in the least, which I found very quickly when I attempted to actually throw a lid. It is also a game in which a person of any age can participate; the likelihood of one playing and maintaining a competitive air is slim. It brings humans together to be very human (i.e. doing things imperfectly) and utilizes the endless stray lids that accompany our universally used five-gallon buckets. Seriously, we use those things for everything from food, wood storage, and compost, to less desirable, but highly sustainable, substances. (Google humanure.) It was my first time playing fris-lid and I highly recommend it.
Next a group of brave Rabbits dove into what we call the Machine Shed and Recycling Area and cleaned, sorted, piled, purged, and pilfered to get that place spiffed up. Compared to the average American we produce significantly less waste in the long run, but eventually, it accumulates. Sometimes, it takes a real dream team to go through the various tools, parts, batteries, and potentially useful items stored over the years, along with the recyclables that need to be managed. If there is one thing I’ve learned since moving here, it’s that there is always more to do; and real wisdom comes not from accomplishing everything, but by accepting the impossibility of doing it all while knowing that doing my best is the finest source of stability.
Of the activities that followed, I chose ultimate Frisbee — and what a relief for my ego to see my throws fly straight after fris-lid golf. Unfortunately, I played nearly till dinner and missed out on board games in the Common House.
The massive, delicious potluck after running around for hours was exactly what I needed, but I was so tired and full afterwards that I didn’t attend stories around the fire that evening. What an adventure.
The next day, our final group of visitors for 2019 arrived. I love meeting new people and aiding in their brief integration into Dancing Rabbit. So far, this group has been one of my favorites.
In the meantime, Ted and I have begun the process of deconstructing a south-facing wall in his house. (I also recommend cob-wall demolition. Very satisfying.) The plan is to mix more clay with straw to replace the wall with a more insulated, sealed substance before winter.
A few days ago I harvested the rest of the basil, picked all the tomatoes, pulled the pepper plants and snipped the sweet potato vines in time for the frost. If you’ve never tasted sweet potato greens I would advise trying some. They grow abundantly, are loaded with awesome nutrition, and taste lovely with mushrooms, rice, salt, cayenne, and garlic. Harvest the whole vines first, not just the leaves; I began doing the reverse in earnest and quickly realized this would take a lot more time than I wanted to invest. Ted gently reminded me that the entire vine needed to be removed so the frost would not catch hold and seep into the potatoes. Every day I learn there is probably an easier way to do something if I just ask for help.
I see Canada geese heading south now and again. I find the ground hard and cold after a frozen night. I feel the wind bite my nose when I walk outside. It’s that time of year, as they say. Here’s to another cycle around the sun at Dancing Rabbit.
Are you interested in visiting our unique community? Your first opportunity will be in April of 2020; you can go ahead and sign up now, if you’d like. The rest of our schedule for next year should be posted within the next couple of months, so keep your eyes peeled.