The Joys of Line-dried Laundry, and More: A Dancing Rabbit Update

The shipping-container grocery store gets the first coat of its new mural. Photo by Alline.

The shipping-container grocery store gets the first coat of its new mural. Photo by Alline.

Greetings from Dancing Rabbit, where the men are adept with scythes and tractors, the women laugh often, and the children run loose like wild and happy wildebeests.

Alline here, with the news of the week… or in some cases, from the past.

This morning over coffee Ben reminded us that two years ago we had a HUGE storm with horizontal wind and torrential rain. It was during the second visitor session of the year, and many visitors were sleeping in tents that quickly became flooded. Most ended up seeking refuge in the Community Building. Ben recalls retrieving one tent from a tree, and staking down his new tool shed in hopes that it would stay put and not blow away and end up in Kansas, or even just Plevna.

Today a new and shiny group of visitors arrive, and we are relieved to see four days of sunshine in the forecast. For those reading this in far-flung places with climate-controlled buildings and grocery stores and farmers’ markets filled with food you didn’t have to grow yourselves – well, this obsession with the weather may seem a bit excessive.

However, farmers always have, and I suspect always will, talk about the weather. And even with just 10 tomato plants (drowning from all the rain, withering in sadness and decrepitude), I too, as a very small-scale farmer, watch the weather station like a hawk.

Not that it does any good. Knowing that it is going to rain again just causes a sense of foreboding, because, as even Noah found out, one can do nothing to stop the rain.

Another aspect of weather-obsession is clotheslines. Here at Dancing Rabbit we choose to hang our clothes out to dry instead of heat drying them, using the sun and wind instead of electricity or natural gas.

I happen to love hanging laundry outside to dry. I grew up with a clothesline; as far back as I can remember my mom hung the clothes out. I love that time in the morning and then again in the late afternoon to be outside, listen to the birds and the kids and whatever else is happening in my community. I love how the sheets smell of sunshine and fresh air. (Folks occasionally find me at my clothesline, huffing sheets.)

My brain is attuned to the sound of rain on our roof – the minute I hear it I’m outside, taking down laundry at lightning speed. Most Americans don’t share my obsession; I’m delighted to live in an area where so many people do. There are lots and lots and lots of clotheslines in Northeast Missouri.

But there is more to Dancing Rabbit than laundry. Not long ago Erica hosted a birthday potluck street party in the usual Friday night community dinner timeslot. She and Stephen (and friends) set up tables and chairs in the road outside of their home, Casa Caterpillar, and the tables were filled with a delicious abundance of food – everything from a sweet potato salad (much like a potato salad but using sweets instead) to Italian tapenade and amaretti (classic Italian almond macaroons) sent from Erica’s family in Italy.

Erica’s countrywoman Francesca created a scavenger hunt, which had Erica doubled over in laughter (the rhymes in Italian were apparently very well done) as she went from one stop to the next. Conversations went on long into the evening, the weather (see – there it is again!) was perfect, as was the day. Sigh.

Nik and Katherine began painting a mural on The Grocery Store (TGS), which began its life as a shipping container before coming here to DR to be fitted with doors and windows and filled with bulk groceries. Begun by Sam, TGS was taken over by Cob when Sam departed. He has launched a crowd-funding campaign to secure loans and donations to create a public market at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, where local producers can display and sell their fruits, vegetables, meats, and more.

We’re gearing up for the Big BAM (Bike Across Missouri) – there are stops in both Rutledge and at Dancing Rabbit on Friday, June 26th! We’re planning delicious food, and figuring out signage, parking, and how the heck to get up to 1,000 cyclists down our gravel road. Stay tuned for more details!

In other news, Dancing Rabbit’s Annual Eco-Audit has begun. Resident Brooke, who received her Masters degree last year and whose thesis was based on the eco-audit results of the past few years, is training a new research assistant (welcome, Carlina!), who will help measure and quantify our use of water, energy and fuel, as well as our trash and recycling. We do this not to “show off,” but to educate ourselves and to better understand our resource use– how much of any particular thing we’re using, where we can conserve, etc. — so we can continue to pursue our goal of living more lightly upon the earth.

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Don’t forget! This summer we’re hosting the first ever Permaculture Design Course at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, August 29-Sept 6, and we’d love to have you join us! Find more info here.

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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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