Slowing Down the Busy: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Katherine slows down and takes a break from preparing lunch to build sandcastles with Althea. Photo by Katherine.

Katherine slows down and takes a break from preparing lunch to build sandcastles with Althea. Photo by Katherine.

Tereza here… slowing down amidst the hectic-ness.

Yes, I know it’s spring turning to summer. That the weather has been mostly amazing, with sunny days that are warm but not too hot, and with enough rain that not too much watering needs to happen. I know that warmer days are usually busier days.

And I hear the birds singing and squawking their joy and fear as their babies flop and flap their wings as they leave the nest, and that not all those babies make it out there in the big cruel world. I see the gardens bursting with new growth, plants both wanted and unwanted, and feel the pull in the back of my legs from an hour’s over-vigorous weeding.

I know that another crop of visitors will be here soon, which means more fully scheduled days for me, and I ask myself why I didn’t use all those days of less-pleasant weather to clean my house? And how can such a tiny house need so much cleaning anyway?

So yes, I totally get that we have a lot on our plates, individually and collectively, right now. But nevertheless I am choosing to slow down, and even in the busiest moments to try to remember to take a deep breath and feel the calm underneath it all.

I’ve interspersed quotes throughout this update from Terry Tempest Williams, from an interview in Yes! Magazine. I encourage you to join me in pausing at each of them to reflect on your own pace, your own place, your own choices…

“I think about those words that you’re bringing to the conversation: humility, discernment, sacrifice. I think it circles back to the notion that survival, now, becomes a spiritual practice.” —Terry Tempest Williams

Mmmmmmm…

Something I miss from my years spent living in cities, and from my occasional visits to larger population centers, is hearing a wide variety of languages and accents. Happily enough, without my having to go anywhere, one Friday night at community dinner there were three international folk in earshot: Lucie, a guest from Canada whose first language is French, and our own Rabbits Erica, from Italy, and Javi, from Spain.

Not long after, Karambu, a woman from Kenya who is visiting the States, came for a short visit as well. She gave a presentation in the Casa called “Reclaiming Wastelands: A new story mind-set.”  It sounded very interesting and I’m bummed I wasn’t able to attend. Laura at Red Earth found an online video version of it, so I watched some of that instead. Dee said she enjoyed practicing her Swahili with Karambu, which I’m also sad to have missed.

Also this week, Hassan’s frequent guest Brady was here for a few days, bringing with him his friend Svenja, who lives in Germany. I enjoyed our dinner conversation very much, especially the bits about British vs. American English, which is a topic Erica (current Italian teacher) and I (former EFL teacher), chat about semi-regularly. She asked me about the word “pram” and, while I know it from my time in Australia as a child, I had to poll the crowd: Do most Americans know this word? Answer: nope. Or at least most Americans at that table didn’t. So you’ll know, though, British pram or perambulator = American baby carriage or stroller.

“And that’s where I find my calm returning. That’s where I return to the place where my voice deepens, and I’m no longer residing in the hysteria of politics. That’s where my grounding is.” —Terry Tempest Williams

Last Thursday I joined a number of other community folk at Woodhenge, Rae and Illly’s lovely timberframe home, where Rae hosted a gathering to listen to a webinar entitled, “The Power of Conflict for Building Connection and Community,” sponsored by Transition US. The presenters were Jacob Corvidae, former Rabbit and Board member, now with the Rocky Mountain Institute, our own Ma’ikwe, ED of DR’s nonprofit branch, and Alyson Ewald, former Rabbit and Board member, now at Red Earth Farms. It was fun and informative, and popular enough that I hear they are considering follow-ups.

Conflict is something I don’t exactly enjoy (I’m one of those who struggled with a suggested rename of the Conflict Resolution Committee to Conflict Celebration), but I do firmly believe that if we want to do better as a species we darn well need to learn to work with conflict in better ways. Our culture teaches us plenty about how to “do” competition, winning and losing, mockery and scoffing, but significantly less about how to really “be” in compassion, caring, empathy, and connection…

“And it comes backto this: Have I had eye contact with another species today? Be it a chickadee or a praying mantis in the garden or our dog? Or each other?” — Terry Tempest Williams

Ted, Sara, and Aurelia were away on a camping trip much of the week, so the Ironweed kitchen scene was a bit sparser. I made a point of stopping by their house several times a day to see/pet/love their cat, Gromit (er, thanks, autocorrect, for the giggles by suggesting “grandma” for that word…).

Most of the year Gromit is a happy indoor-outdoor kitty, but for a few months a year he’s on lockdown, along with most of the other cats who are avid hunters, in an attempt to protect vulnerable ground-nesting bird species. (Not all hunters are kept in lockdown, mind you– it continues to be a contentious area in our pet policy. Kudos to you, Ted, for dealing with the annoyance of keeping a cat in who so desperately wants to be out, especially since I know you don’t agree with the policy…)

Gromit wasn’t always very excited to see me, which I later realized was because many other people were also stopping by. It was fun to get at least a little bit of excitement from him every now and again, though. Apparently I need a regular dose of kitty cuddles. Or being utterly ignored by a feline. I’m kind of a sucker for cats that way. We’re both glad his family is back– we missed them!

“…I think it also has to do with slowing down so we can listen and hear and remember who we are and who we are not.” — Terry Tempest Williams

A few final snippets, and then I’m off to be busy, um, I mean to slow down even more today….

I’ve really been enjoying our writers group. We’re such a diverse group with such different interests that it makes for a lot of very good feedback. If the poet, the science fiction fan, the nature writing fan, the artist, and the English teacher all agree on something in your writing, maybe you should listen.

Song circle hasn’t been happening that regularly of late, but it finally did this week! It was Critter wexer Kelsey’s first time, and she seemed to love it. Mae, Althea, and Arthur were there too, though amazingly enough Arthur spent the entire time sleeping in his pram. (No, not really, he was in a bassinet, but see what I did there? Just wanted to reinforce the earlier vocab lesson…)

New residents David and Mary moved in to Strawtron this week — welcome! Having missed their visitor session and most of their recent short visits, I’m looking forward to getting to know them in the months to come.

Another event that I’m sorry to have missed was Javi’s firefighter training! Happening in the Common House after dark one night, it involved Hassan hiding a giant doll somewhere in the building, and then Javi, wearing all his gear, crawling methodically through the building to find and rescue the doll. I’ve heard there’s a video, but haven’t yet seen it. And admit to wondering what there might be to see in the dark…

Last, but by no means least, it was Erica’s birthday on Sunday! It was her third birthday in a row at DR, the first occurring when she was a visitor. This time Alline brought cupcakes to the WIP (week in preview) meeting, where we sang the DR birthday song and happily ate cupcakes, chocolate with bright pink frosting. Later Stephen and Erica brought out “chocolate salami” — even I, huge chocolate fan that I am, hesitate at the name, but it’s made of chocolate, lots of dairy, and graham crackers — very tasty. Dan was selling the first strawberries of the season from his garden and they went nicely with the salami, I must say.

“There has to be joy, right? People think, ‘Oh, this is so dire.’ It is dire. But there has to be joy. There has to be humor, There has to be friendship.” — Terry Tempest Williams

Until next time, wishing all of you joy, humor, and friendship!

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Looking for an immersive experience of living lightly, ecovillage-style? Sign up for our new “Ecovillage Experience: Skills for Living Lightly” course, happening July 9-14 at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. There’ll be lots of hands-on, interactive learning of a wide range of sustainable living skills, plus we’ll help you figure out how to take your learning home with you! Read more about the course on our webpage, or click here to register now!

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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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