Facing Life Head-On: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Graham and I have tried to implement as many permaculture concepts in Cob’s vegetable garden this year as time has allowed. One concept that really caught my fancy was to plant perennial flowers and certain veggies in amongst the veggie beds to attract pollinator insects (e.g., cosmos, nasturtiums, zinnias, daisies, borage, and dandelions) and to discourage pest insects (e.g., onion, garlic, leeks, basil, radishes, and marigolds). Liz here, in awe of the beauty of a permaculture garden in the fullness of summer.

The summer bounty is beginning to come in at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. It’s been a dry summer and my thoughts often turn to how we can maximize catching rainwater for the garden. Right now, we catch rainwater from a shed roof and use county water when we run out of rainwater. A new weather pattern that old-timers have begun noticing is that instead of frequent rain showers throughout the summer, we now often get less frequent, fast deluges of rain. So, having the capacity to catch more rainwater with each storm would really help the water supply for the garden. The list for what we want to implement in the garden next year is growing quickly. While I am content with what I’ve learned and accomplished in the garden this year, I’m looking forward to trying more ideas next year.

Football, biscuits, and gravy for all. Photo by Carolyn Bunge.

My seasonal hunger for summer squash is waning, which means we’ve stepped-up processing the 5 to 8 squashes we get on a daily basis and we freeze, can, or dehydrate many for use by our kitchen co-op later in the year. We have started pickling and have established a system for picking cucumbers each day, accumulating them for a week, and then pickling them in batches before they start to decay.

I quick-pickled radishes and red onions with garlic, lemon slices, fresh oregano, and peppercorns along with coriander, mustard, and fenugreek seeds. Yum! These quick-pickled veggies are ready to eat after a day and last several weeks in the refrigerator. We harvested the first of our basil to make pesto for pasta with, you guessed it, summer squash. New parsley, nestled in the shady understory of flowers and towering tomato plants to keep it from bolting in the heat, went into a marinated, mushroom salad along with the first of the garlic harvest.

Just when it seemed that Graham and I were settled in our early morning schedule, tasks were slowing down somewhat with plants beginning to produce, and flowers and clover in the veggie beds had begun to crowd out the weeds we needed to pull, we realized it was time to start seeds for our fall garden. I sowed kale, arugula, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, several kinds of beets, and garlic seeds. I was so happy to learn there are several ways to grow garlic and that we had accumulated a box of garlic seeds from our recent harvest. You really can’t ever have too much garlic.

It has been my intention since I moved to Dancing Rabbit over a year ago for my kids to feel at home here, even if they don’t end up living here. Although Dancing Rabbit is now their home base, it can’t be easy to settle into a new home that comes with a whole community. Both of my kids are currently living here and seem to be adjusting well. Several days ago, we welcomed Isabelle, half-sibling to my kids, for a visit. I feel joy watching the ease with which my daughter Talia shows Isabelle around, advising her on how to navigate life here, from composting toilets to kitchen co-ops.

Talia and I have resurrected the Kirksville bunny-hop, a weekly rideshare into town in a car from our vehicle co-op. We share the expenses of the ride and get to know some fellow Rabbits a bit more.

My kids have a routine coffee gathering at the Milkweed Mercantile in the mornings and we have a new family tradition attending the Mercantile’s pizza night each Thursday.

One wonderful aspect of living in community is that if you have an idea for an activity or event, there are plenty of people to help you with it and to attend. Bear’s milestone-birthday plans included building a water-slide into the pond and hosting an Appreciation Circle the following day.

The Milkweed Mercantile recently hosted a viewing of the World Cup Final. Alline and Cob served biscuits and gravy with mimosas. I’m not a sports fan by any stretch, but I have the good sense to show up for Alline’s biscuits and gravy.

The village recently said goodbye to participants in the third session of the Dancing Rabbit Visitor Program and the Mercantile staff have begun preparing for the arrival of ten students and two teachers for a five-day stay. My part in this will be to cook their breakfast each day and this begins with baking our House granola and some quick breads, such as zucchini or banana bread.

My dear friend Tereza just returned from a month in Italy and I’m looking forward to continuing our routine of prairie walks, sitting together for Sci-Fi Movie Night, raising an occasional glass of port, and sharing the latest news.

The sale of my house in California is final and I feel the achy-sadness of cutting another tie with California, yet I feel relief from carrying the burden of that connection. I no longer need to monitor California wildfires and earthquakes. I am now free to live my best life. I am looking forward to having more time to ponder the meaning of that.

There is a metaphor in Buddhism that has been helpful at many times in my life. Ken McLeod tells his version of this metaphor in “Reflections on Silver River”:

You are standing on a wooden dock. It is old and falling apart. In front of you, the open expanse of the ocean extends to the horizon. Below your feet is a boat, well stocked and fully equipped. You know it is, because you took care in preparing it.

It is the only boat at the dock. The other moorings are empty, forgotten.

You are not exactly sure how you came to be here, but you do know you cannot turn your back on the ocean. Yet you hesitate to step into the boat. What stops you?

You know that your friends, your colleagues, and your relatives are all busy–providing for their families, moving ahead in their lives, making their mark in the world. You are here looking at the ocean, the boat gently bobbing at your feet as waves lap against the dock.

The world behind you seems simultaneously full and empty.There are many enjoyments and rewards. You have tasted them. But you cannot escape a sense of futility and a gnawing insistence that wonders, “Is this all there is?” Your friends sometimes touch the same feelings, but they turn away from it quickly–a gap in the web of life that is never explored.

You cannot turn away. You wonder how they can. And you wonder what, if anything, you can do for them so that they do not turn away. You wonder because you are pretty sure that you are missing something, and that is why you prepared the boat. And you think they may be missing something, too. But you do not know what.

What will it take for you to step into the boat?

For me, there is something fundamentally human about belonging to a group. The longer I live in community, the more palpable is the relief in belonging. Belonging is part of getting into that figurative boat. Being of service to others makes the boat move. And love, kindness, and compassion sustain that movement forward.

Want to get a taste of living in community (and maybe Alline’s biscuits and gravy too!)? Come visit us this year to get a glimpse into how we live and how you can incorporate these practices into your own life. There are still two Sustainable Living Visitor Program sessions and several more workshops happening between now and October, how will you choose to get involved?

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