Hello from Ted at Dancing Rabbit with this week’s update. It’s been a quiet week here in the village, with the exception of intermittent sounds related to firewood procurement and preparation: a knuckle-boom log truck bringing logs for firewood, chainsaws (many electric, running on solar and wind power) cutting things to size, and the rhythmic crack-and-thump of wood being split with a maul.
Mae, Ben, Caleb, and Kyle spent parts of several days splitting wood for the Common House boiler, which heats the building (through radiant floor heating) and its domestic hot water supply. It’s a task that can get you credit toward your common house use fees here, not to mention the appreciation of your friends and neighbors and our reliable boilerman, Bob.
The writing staff list these days is long enough that I haven’t written since November. It is a pleasure to be home for the duration of the cold season, not planning any more travel until after warmth returns. The rhythms are steady, making sure animals have food, water, and warmth, and that we have those for ourselves as well.
I, too, spent several days on firewood this week, trying to keep us well supplied with split and stacked wood on the nicer days, so that on the less nice days I can more fully enjoy staying warm and comfortable inside this home we’ve built, and exercise my intent to spend more time reading during the “down” season.
Sara finished the first two (beautiful!) thermal shades for the windows in our addition this week, and I’ve been re-plastering joints and edges on our earthen walls at intervals to reduce outside air infiltration, so we’re feeling steadily warmer in our house. Sunny and windy days don’t hurt either, allowing us to run an electric heater at times when our off-grid system is full to the brim. Several days of warmer weather this week were a welcome respite from the deep cold of a couple weeks ago.
Despite the warmer days, there was still some good skating this past week. Previous snows had left many local ponds in poor shape for skating lately, but twice Jacob at Red Earth hosted hockey on his pond, whose ice was relatively good. I didn’t grow up with ice skating, and don’t understand why skates often seem so uncomfortable to wear that I can hardly enjoy the activity. Nonetheless I finally acquired some skates a couple years ago, and in joining some of the usual hockey players Wednesday, I discovered that I could in fact cease to notice the discomfort for periods of time when absorbed in the game. Certainly it was a pleasure to get my body moving more actively than wearing five layers every day in winter usually does.
While gleaning dead osage limbs for firewood from a couple trees in our orchard, I started dreaming again of tree houses. This is nothing new for me, but this is the year I’m determined to get started on something, a tree platform at least, so I can start getting up to the right vantage from which to imagine the rest. I also got a slackline (a tightrope, more or less, but with 2″ heavy webbing instead of rope) as a gift last month, and look forward to spending more time between trees generally as the season warms.
Sunday a group of kids from our local homeschooling group headed to La Plata for a swimming play date with a homeschooling group based there. I accompanied one vehicle as a driver, and loved watching the way kids can open to relationship with each other so quickly and easily, without any pretext but being alive in the same place at the same time. It is a good lesson to learn again and again– you can find community anywhere you go, if you open to it.
Now back to imagining how many black raspberries I can plant in spring… May your toes and your hot chocolate mugs stay toasty warm through the heart of winter. Hope we’ll see you here this coming year!
Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an educational nonprofit and intentional community in Rutledge, northeast Missouri, practicing and experimenting in ecologically sustainable living. You can learn more about us by visiting our website, reading our blog, or emailing us.