This fall I’m experiencing some pleasant full-circle memories that I’d like to share with you. Liz here, one of the newer residents of Dancing Rabbit.
You see, this time last year I was a student of the nine-day Permaculture Design Course that has taken place at Dancing Rabbit the last several falls. I had a hidden agenda for taking the course: to spend nine days at Dancing Rabbit, to see if it was the right place for me to begin a new life. I stayed another two weeks after the course was over, one week as a guest and one week as part of Dancing Rabbit’s visitor program, and now here I am, a full year later, and I’ve been a resident at DR for almost six months.
Instead of being a student dreaming of living here, I am cooking breakfasts for this fall’s batch of students in the course. And I am trying my best to pass along some of the welcoming spirit and healthy, delicious food that I got to experience last year to this year’s participants. I am anticipating the wonderful, life-changing experience that they are about to have by taking the course.
I like to watch the camaraderie of groups develop as visitors steep in Dancing Rabbit’s “love soup,” as I like to call it. After several days of disorientation and perhaps some grumpiness from lack of sleep in a new place, most people start to blossom, relax, become conversational, smile more, and begin to experience the benefits of community living.
We just said goodbye to the last of the visitors in the women-only visitor group these last few weeks. They came to eat dinner at Thistledown, my co-op kitchen, a few days ago and Cob regaled us, to much laughter, with stories of parenting gone awry raising his three boys.
Karaoke night at the Mercantile was a big hit as always, and I enjoyed sipping a cold gin and tonic and watching fellow Rabbits take on their alter-ego personas for a song at a time.
Yesterday I visited with a woman from Texas who I got to know when we were fellow visitors last fall. She decided to come back for the permaculture course based partly on my glowing recommendation. I’m beginning to realize the importance of checking in with people who are living outside of Dancing Rabbit. I mean, I read the news, but most of the time I am not having the unkindness of these times directed at me, and while I’m grateful for this, I realize that I remain part of the greater human race, and it’s important for me to hear what others are going through.
Tereza had an important birthday several days ago, her “Golden Rabbit” birthday, which is [Editor’s Note: something Tereza just made up, which she declared to be:] when the date of a Rabbit’s birthday matches the number of years they’ve lived at Dancing Rabbit, which for her was 17. I felt honored to assemble a lemon cake for her birthday celebration, gingerly carrying it down the long path from the Mercantile to Ironweed, her co-op kitchen, trying not to trip on my way there. I made it there and pieces of cake were paired with peach sorbet.
This last week for me was mostly about getting ready to cook breakfast for the 25 people in the permaculture course, and that involved sourcing fresh ingredients locally. Just as all other sources of zucchini dried up, Carolyn from Red Earth Farms, our neighboring intentional community, came through with gorgeous green zucchini that went into my zucchini bread. I reluctantly put her bright yellow lemon zucchini and perfectly ripe cherry tomatoes on the back counter for the lunch and dinner crew.
Ted came through with lots of homemade yogurt, and a CSA box arrived of various veggies from Sandhill Farm, another intentional community three miles from here. And of course, eggs from the Critters down the lane. Peppers went into my frittata this morning from Loren’s garden. Alline’s luscious homemade jams (blueberry, raspberry, and rhubarb) went on the table to go with Alyson’s sourdough bread, one of several kinds she makes for the village each week. And Sandhill’s Jonathon apples, so tart and crisp, with layers of lemon and vanilla flavor, were made into applesauce with cinnamon.
The biggest lesson I’m learning since moving here is to go ahead and make plans, but hold them loosely in my mind, because as circumstances change, my frustration and resistance to change drains a lot of energy from me, not to mention making life much less pleasant. And living in community means that I am connected to a lot of moving parts, er, people, whose needs and plans change often when taken as a whole. I knew this would be difficult for me when I decided to move here, but I decided to go ahead and immerse myself in the lesson, watching for opportunities to practice what I knew would add a lot of positive energy to my life.
Practicing this looks like: recognizing when I’m becoming overwhelmed by changing circumstances and retreating to a quiet place, even for a few minutes, and reassuring myself that things will all work out, and trying my best to build some space for rest and relaxation into every day. And the other part of this practice is not to take out any of my negative emotions on anyone else who may be randomly crossing my path during an emotional moment. And yeah, sometimes I have meltdowns, but I now recognize that these emotional storms will pass, and I try to give them a nod and let them pass through without taking them too seriously.
“If the mind is flexible, the world is flexible,” as Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche says in a Lion’s Roar article, describing what I am trying to put into practice. As he explains it, “Instead of shattering when we hit reality, we land in an ocean of cool water, a new dimension that reflects life in a new way.” A helpful perspective for living in any community.
It’s not too late to join the final visitor session of the year, happening Oct 8-29! There are just a few spots left, so if you want to start making your own Dancing Rabbit memories, get your application in now!
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) .