I blame everything on Ben. See, back in 2013 or so, he wrote a blog post about Schlepp Day, the hellish migration he and his family embarked on to move all of their worldly possessions to a yurt at the top of a hill. He described how all of his skills — mental, physical, and interpersonal — were put to the test. He mentioned communing with some cuddly critters, sharing some wine with his neighbors, and he even described his hugelkultur beds, a permaculture technique I had just experimented with in a dusty little west Texas garden I was tending at the time, using mesquite logs and prickly pear. I have since learned that Ben is an excellent cook, but that day, he dished out some Critter-chicken soup for my soul, and he is the clearest inspiration to visit Dancing Rabbit that I can recall. (Don’t tell him I said that.)
My wheels had been turning for years on the prospect of joining an intentional community, and I had a list of favorites I wanted to check out. It included the usual suspects, lots of well-known communities, but Dancing Rabbit was right at the top. Long story short, this little village in northeast Missouri captured my heart during my visitor session. I even cancelled my plans to visit another community, so that I could begin my residency process here. At this point, I’ve lived at DR for five years, and I have no regrets. My name is Vick, by the way.
On my first day here, I met a plucky little guy called Toon. While he helped me set up my tent, I learned that he used to be stationed at Goodfellow, the Airforce base in my hometown, and we exchanged the first of many high-fives. In the years that followed, we also shared lots of jokes, ruminations about life, and many a meal consisting of twice-rotted venison, (maybe I’ll tell you about that particular Toon delicacy another time).
A few days later, I received a gift: a freshly laid egg, deposited in my dirty clothes hamper by one of Sara and Ted’s chickens. I’ll never know whether her intentions were romantic, or merely neighborly, because I didn’t give her much of a chance to explain herself. I came upon her unawares, as she was sitting on a folding chair inside my tent. I looked at her. She looked at me. I said “holy ****!”, and she set about a whirlwind of wing flapping that can only be described as a conniption fit. I laughed so hard that I didn’t even mind cleaning splattered bird droppings off of every conceivable surface, including my pillow.
Toward the end of my visit, I had an altercation with a man who I have since come to call one of my best friends. He invited me to have lunch with him. (Side note: I’ll never forget what Toon made that day; what came to be known as “interesting soup”, consisting of apples, cucumbers, mostly raw potatoes, and a rubberized rabbit that he caught in a trap near his strawbale cottage, all stewed in some beef bone broth that he had left sitting in his cubby at room temperature for several days. Toon was known for his adventurous cuisine, or as I like to call it, queezine.) Anyway, this fellow asked me what felt like a handful of intrusive questions, made some, what seemed to me, hubris-filled judgements about me, and gave me the distinct impression that he felt entitled to single-handedly decide whether or not I would get to move to Dancing Rabbit. Since then, I’ve learned what a big heart he has, and I realized shortly thereafter that he simply wanted to look after the best interests of everyone involved, including me. That conversation was my first experience with treating “my business” as “our business”; it’s a concept that takes some getting used to, but if you want to live in community, there’s no avoiding it.
I’ve been helped by my neighbors, more times and in more ways than I can count. When I bought a house here, for example, Hassan installed the electrics for me. He refused to let me pay him, instead insisting that I pay it forward. (I still don’t know if I really have, and maybe I never will, but I suppose there’s no such thing as an end to offering kindness to others.) My friends Matt and Carolyn, (or Mattie and lil’-c as I like to call them), pulled me out of my malaise more than once, while I had to endure a months-long challenge in my personal life, when a relative of mine was dying with cancer. I have learned countless things, great and small, from each and every one of my neighbors, big and small. (For example: one of the local kids, Althea, taught me about a certain kind of flower, the petals of which can be eaten, and taste something like a 9-volt battery. It’s called the Szechuan button, or the electric daisy, or the toothache plant. You might have a chance to get a taste of one, when you visit us.)
So, why did I stick around? It’s simple: I love the people. Don’t get me wrong, there are LOTS of cool things about living here. But the world is full of cool things to see and do. The world isn’t full, at least in my experience, of people that you can truly call your companions in life.
If you’ve been longing to meet some like-minded folks, who share your passion for environmental sustainability, natural building, homeschooling kids, or anything else along those lines, then visiting Dancing Rabbit is the thing to do. I remember the siren call of my old comfort zone, beckoning me to give up on my dreams and carry on with the way things are, but the magic of this community is much stronger. Don’t take my word for it. Sign up to spend some time with us soon. I’ve loved every minute of living here, and I believe you might too.