One of the jokes that Californians often chuckle over is how much we talk about the weather even though it doesn’t change much. But here in northeastern Missouri the weather changes pretty much hourly. Liz here, with more of the latest from Dancing Rabbit.
And so many kinds of weather! I feel as if I am becoming a connoisseur of weather. As an example, I hear raindrops on my metal roof and as soon as I get my coat on to go outside, the rain has changed to snow, or sleet, or freezing rain, or just an icy coat on the ground that I slide around on as I mince my way across the village.
According to the traditional Chinese calendar it is spring right now, a transitional form of spring to be sure (the yang within the yin), but I have felt my energy rising and I no longer want to sit in front of the fire. There are things to do in this world, cries Spring, and I rise to it. Sparrows are already jostling for nesting space under the eaves of my roof and when I open my front door they all fly out from under the eaves. I had three resident bunnies on my warren last year, each at different times, and this morning I noticed the first one of this new season. And this rabbit is just as nonchalant as all the others about my presence.
Another sign of spring for me is my sudden urge to plan a vegetable garden. Gardens abound here and Rabbits love to talk about growing food. I make a point of knowing what is growing in different gardens so I can barter or pay for veggies for my cooking job or use in Mercantile meals for inn guests or for dinner at Thistledown kitchen. Just a few more weeks and I’ll be starting seeds in my greenhouse and sharing it with others who need greenhouse space. Looks like there will be several work exchangers this season and that increases the chances that much will get done, so we’re planning accordingly. My current favorite gardening book (and best one of all time) is called Great Garden Companions by Sally Jean Cunningham. Lots of illustrations, permaculture-based garden plans, gorgeous photos, ‘nuf said.
And speaking of inn guests, the Milkweed Mercantile hosted its first workshop of the year this weekend, a fiber arts workshop. I got to eavesdrop on the drop spinning class while I cleaned up the breakfast I cooked for the workshop participants and made sourdough biscuits for morning snack. The workshop attendees were invited to attend the Saturday qigong class that I lead every week and I was impressed with their enthusiasm and openness to try something new.
On the final day of the fiber arts workshop I cooked a decadent breakfast of French toast made with zucchini bread and cream cheese, with apple slices sauteed in butter and cinnamon, plenty of bacon, and good coffee. There was house-made granola and yogurt from the goat co-op as well. It really felt good to be cooking in the Mercantile kitchen again, one of my happy places. And what a wonderful way to kick off the workshop season, with colorful yarns and the textures and patterns of homemade projects.
This week I finally feel recovered from community retreat. Seven days of (and I say this with affection) people, people, people! My favorite meeting was about DR’s on-site energy utility called BEDR. I joined a working group that formed out of that meeting that will be working on installation of more solar panels that were just purchased and possibly a refurbished wind turbine for a more dramatic increase in the production of energy on farm. We also discussed tiered pricing and other ideas to help bring BEDR into compliance with our agreement to export twice as much energy back to the grid as we import.
Last year was my first Valentine’s day in 34 years without a partner and it was no fun. This year not a single Rabbit wished me happy Valentine’s Day or asked me what my plans were for that day, or whether I had a dinner date lined up. Instead, Alline spearheaded the yearly making of validation cards for each community member. Over the next two weeks, we can write in each other’s cards with words of appreciation and encouragement. Then we get together and read selected contents of the cards and try to guess who the card is for. Another way in which I appreciate living here!
I continue to teach qigong twice a week. We have been meeting since November and this week I decided the Thursday class might be ready to follow along by demonstration only, hoping students would start to internalize the moves more with less verbal direction. And because qigong is “movement meditation” one’s attention is directed inward more readily when there is no one telling you what to do. Seeing students moving silently in unison through the forms was a beautiful thing and filled my heart with joy and love. It occurred to me later that this was another form of community: moving in unison and forming connections through shared experience.
Another form of connection is the weekly group meditation sit. Because the fiber workshop was in the Casa building where we usually meet, I volunteered to host the sit at my cottage. We ended up with eight yogis meditating in my little one-room house. As I was setting up for it the night before, I had an amusing image of how people used to try to see how many people could squeeze into a phone booth. Anyway…
The 21-day Complaint Free challenge continues to generate much discussion and amusement here, especially at the Thistledown dinner table. The challenge is to go 21 consecutive days without complaining or gossiping. If you do either, you have to reset to day 1. I’ve given up on it and then joined again several times now, all the while acknowledging how much I’m learning about my way of thinking and also learning just how nuanced people can get about one subject! Another self-development event for community members was a Meyers-Briggs and Enneagram one-day workshop this last week, which provided fodder for many conversations as members tried to process the information about where they fit in these personality typing systems, and how to use this to better connect and interact with others.
The theme of how our thoughts influence our outlook and the people around us came up in an I Ching reading I did this morning. My question to this book of wisdom was one I often use, with different answers each time: How can I follow my spiritual path today? This morning was all about nourishment: of the food I eat and the nourishment I give my spiritual self. The reading also touched on nourishing others, and that the more we feed ourselves with healthy food and awareness of how we think and what we say, the more we foster positive connections with those around us. To quote the book, “It is up to you to decide what nourishment you will take into your body, what ideas you will take into your mind, and people you will take into your company. If you neglect exercise and sound diet, you will ruin your body. If you allow negative emotions in and focus your thoughts on what is unimportant or unworthy of you, those thoughts and emotions will frustrate and distract you. Thus if you find that you lack peace, it may be because you have brought the causes of disturbance within yourself.”
I am continually amazed at how the I Ching continues to hit the nail on the proverbial head with these timeless and universal themes. Which explains our fascination with how to live more fulfilled and balanced lives. This is more relevant than ever before, given our negative national health. May these words of wisdom encourage some balance in your own life and the lives of those around you. ‘Nuf said.
The fiber arts workshop was the first of many opportunities to experience Dancing Rabbit in 2018! Sign up for one of our visitor sessions or workshops today, so you too can get a taste of ecovillage living!
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.