Smack dab in the middle of Main Street of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, 30 Rabbits and friends sat Sunday night. Aglow in candle and moonlight, they ate, clinked, laughed, and carried on.
Donning the chef’s hat one day and the writer’s hat another, Nik here, waxing (and waning) poetic.
Everyone’s hat rack is pretty full here, but the chef’s hat (proverbial-wise, not the big, white coffee-filter looking thing) is what I love donning the most. A five-course harvest dinner came together last Sunday with a lot of love and help from farmers, friends, and the land.
Just as the moon started to peek through the eastern trees, everyone at the 30-foot table was having a snacktime of juice and fruit rollups. Asian pears and tart autumn olives from our land made these rollups, and the juice was beet and peach, spiked with apple cider vinegar and maple syrup topped with a tiny green umbrella of nasturtium leaf. Also on the menu: fresh goat cheese and sage ravioli, a red Thai curry of Sandhill Farm butternut squash, and an autumnal salad of apples, garden greens picked by Alyssa and her son Zane, and crunchy sunchokes that I dug from the sunny garden at Aubergine.
In the lull of service after the main course, I got to stroll out of the Mercantile kitchen and see a sea of happy faces bathed in candlelight from Mason jars. My favorite thing about being a cook is seeing people surprised and pleased by new flavors; my second favorite thing is being pleased and surprised myself! If the cook is bored with their food, why would anyone else be excited about it?
Tipping back the small juice of beetroot and white peach switchel (a traditional Appalachian drink that tastes akin to kombucha, made with apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, and citrus) and taking a bite of vividly green nasturtium leaf. It was just on the edge of sour, earthy, and the intensely verdant bite of leaf all gave me a smile that broke my conversation. But then Alline, queen of cakes at the Milkweed Mercantile, came out with her now-famous apple caramel cake, topped with nut-brittle full moons!
We finished the last bites of our little sugar moons and then went to see the big moon get a bite taken out of it. Our village astronomy enthusiast Lucas set up his tracking telescope in the orchard so we could see every crater as the moon got swallowed by the eclipse.
As Lucas explained why the moon looked red, I took some time to appreciate that this moment was not just a shared village experience, but a shared planetary experience. Historically, eclipses marked the end of an era and the beginnings of new ones. These are times of major growth or change for individuals or the collective whole. As I helped hold one of the young kids up to see the moon through the telescope’s eyepiece, I was overcome knowing that this was eventually going to be a good era for her…Especially here with these people and families.
One of the ways I felt this era was changing for her, is the topics of gender dynamics and feminism being very much alive in the community this last month. The fact that we hold a gender balance in accepting new members has seemed to put many men on the defensive. Feelings of unjust discrimination are sometimes voiced, and we as men (and women) of intentional community have been checking our privilege and raising that awareness with others that have recently collided with community culture.
Being aware of privilege is all well and good to help us pat ourselves on the back, but it’s not enough to push back against it. Sitting and truly listening to others’ experiences is a huge start, without letting myself react negatively. Anything I can say is just going to cause more harm because it is a reminder that white men always get to have a voice and that voice usually drowns out the voices of others in our culture. We all have valid things to say, but sometimes we need to take a back seat…it’s not easy, but it’s how to push back. We strive to live up to being a community founded on feminist principles, and it still feels like an uphill battle to truly achieve that. But the ball has begun rolling…and we have to continue to push until we reach the top.
Admittedly a little bleary-eyed from a full weekend aside from cooking multi-courses for a multitude, I am still reeling from a two-day workshop on breathwork. Laura Wolf and amazing apprentice Rob of Shaman’s Heart Sanctuary led about a dozen folks through the ins and outs of breathwork meditation and journeying.
Needless to say, I slept well as the Earth’s shadow crossed the blood red moon. The last thought that ran through my head as I drifted off, was that in that crimson shadow was the shadow of everyone on Earth. All the good and bad things that we see and all that goes unseen…and we all got to witness that. Thanks for that opportunity, moon.
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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 (dancingrabbiticorg) .