Connection and Cookies: A Dancing Rabbit Update

We’re in a bit of a brief thaw here this week in northeast Missouri, between a polar vortex episode and the return of colder temperatures. Ted here to bring you the latest from our fair village.

I read this week a couple articles online about theories being advanced as to why the Arctic keeps experiencing temperatures significantly above normal, even as we in temperate latitudes experience significant cold events that belie the bigger trend. Overall, the global norm continues to ride increasingly above normal, but the lack of sea ice formation in the far north this time of year is one of the most conspicuous examples of a changing climate.

In the past month we’ve watched several episodes of “Years of Living Dangerously”, put out by National Geographic as an episodic approach to the realities of climate change with the aid of popular media figures “starring” in each show. It is encouraging to me to see this kind of blunt “we must take action and personal responsibility” message going out in prime time, and making the case that these fundamental choices about how we live and the impact of our choices are some of the most important things for us to grapple with, both individually and as a society, if we want a robust and positive future to look forward to. Climate change is slowly rooting into the collective consciousness even as it is fought over in the political realm.

Still life with a selection of Ironweed’s preserved foods. Photo by Ted.

Dancing Rabbit as a whole is non-denominational both religiously and politically. If you can live with the ecological covenants we have in place, can put together enough income to make it work, and agree to resolve conflict peaceably, you are generally welcome to join us. I would be lying not to relate, however, that the apparent plans of the incoming administration inspire deep anxiety for many of us in the realms of ecological restoration, social justice, and world peace, among other significant issues of our time.

Time will tell, but I am reminded that the greatest power to shift our collective course lies with the individual choices we each make. I have the power to change my impact, no matter what happens on the national stage. You do too. There are a lot of us, and if we all vote with our hearts and our dollars (whether in spending or withholding), and start where we are, positive change is not only possible but inevitable.

If you’re looking for tools of change, a living example of a lower-impact way of life, or just some solidarity in your own efforts, now is a great time to get in touch and consider visiting Dancing Rabbit in 2017, our 20th anniversary year! More visitor sessions and a variety of other program offerings are on tap for the coming year, and we’d love to see you joining in.

While the year to come holds many plans, we are at the low population time of year at Dancing Rabbit, with numerous Rabbits off in the world here and there and a skeleton crew here at home. Our weekly meeting on Sunday had fewer than 10 people present, less than half that of a normal week. The Village Council is on break for a couple weeks, and most regular committee meetings are on hold.

Nonetheless we did manage gatherings of various sorts this week, including a game of ultimate frisbee, a Solstice celebration, the annual cookie and treat potluck at Thistledown, and the similarly annual Christmas brunch potluck at the Mercantile.

Even as many Rabbits are away, some Rabbits new and old return to the village. Jennifer, Toren, and Cynder are visiting from the east coast for a short while. Kassandra, Jasmine, and Kaylyn are spending some winter break time here, which Aurelia and the other local kids were very glad of (not least owing to the extensive cookie-baking planned for the week). And new residents Alyx, Ben, and their two kids have just lately arrived in the village to begin residency.

We don’t typically encourage new folks to take up residence starting in this time of year, partly because we have not often had surplus warm-able indoor space for such new folks to inhabit, and partly because after the high season of numerous visitors, tours, and other events, many villagers go into a bit of semi-hibernation and may not be as available to help integrate new arrivals. Just now, though, I’m really enjoying the new energy they bring and feel like I have a little more time and space to reach out and connect than I do at other times of year.

As we come up on the new year, Ironweed kitchen is enjoying the last of our fresh veggies (a bit of kale, one daikon, and a final handful of long-ripening tomatoes), and moving more fully into our stored foods. Potatoes are on the menu, though we have only a shade of the quantities we’ve had in storage in previous winters owing to the droughty times and long warm autumn this year. Five gallons or so of kim chee is just reaching perfection in the pantry after three weeks’ ferment, and we’ve imported a goodly quantity of winter squash from our neighbors at Sandhill Farm to see us through.

Then of course there is our typical large quantity of garlic, which I’m trying to steadily prepare for my annual production run of Indian garlic pickle. Along with our own frozen, canned, and dehydrated foods, lots of Fox Holler’s fresh frozen pork, and quite a lot of aging goat cheese, we are reasonably well stocked for the duration of winter. With this brief reprieve from the cold, though, and with the rain we got, I’ve noticed a couple mushrooms popping up on our logs, and I’m considering bringing some of them into the cellar today to force some fruiting and get a little bit more fresh production into January.

As I sat out on the high ground at our town center with Sara and Aurelia the morning after Solstice to watch the sun return, I felt the same hope I always do, my fears left behind. I hope you feel it too.

From our village to you, may you enjoy a bit of down time and connection with friends and family (and some cookies) through this darkest bit of the annual cycle. Let the days now grow ever longer (and the chickens start laying again) as we head into a new year!

Dancing Rabbit’s non-profit arm is in the final week of our end-of-year appeal, so we’re asking friends and fans to support our outreach and education work. If you’ve already donated, thank you so much! If not, and you enjoy receiving these updates and want to support us, please donate 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.


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