Lucas, Brooke, and Bear testing the new labyrinth! Photo by Brent.

The Return of Spring…and Things: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Yes, indeedy, spring is here, a time of growth, rebirth, and lots of activity. Recently returned from a month in Texas with Nathan visiting family and friends, I made my first batch of asparagus and shiitake mushrooms last week, sauteed up with plenty of Ironweed garlic, and that right there was the taste of spring in NEMO to me. Mmmmmm…

Tereza here, writing to you at the end of a busy spring week, and the beginning of what looks to be a busy season altogether, here at Dancing Rabbit.

The first week of the first visitor session of 2017 is complete, and so far this has been a lively, engaged, and interesting group. It’s always fun for me to think about which, if any, of them might be here 6-12 months from now. (Sometimes I think we oughta have a betting pool, but my better self stops me from actually proposing one.)

Lucas, Brooke, and Aaron testing the new labyrinth! Photo by Brent.

From my vantage point they seem to be having a great time. On Tuesday night after potluck we had Meet and Greet, where we learn each other’s names and get to know one another. We played a “speed dating” game, where the Rabbits present stand in a circle facing out, and the visitors stand in a circle around the Rabbits, facing in, so each Rabbit is paired with a visitor. We then have one minute to ask and answer questions before it’s time to move and meet the next person, and chat with them. Some of the questions were silly, some were deep, and my personal favorite was this: if you could be any kind of tree at all, what would you be and why?

On Friday night after community dinner I facilitated Q&A with visitors. It’s an opportunity for them to ask the same question of a bunch of Rabbits at once, which usually means getting a number of different perspectives. (Believe it or not, we do not all have the same opinions. At all.) There were some really good questions, including a few I’d never heard before, and given how long I’ve been here, that’s a fairly rare occurrence.

Toward the end of the evening someone asked “what’s the worst thing for you about living here,” and we went around the circle, each saying a pet peeve, or in some cases big things that are really challenging for us. It was getting a little depressing and we realized that we needed to next ask what’s the best thing about living here (which was the questioner’s intention, it turned out). So we did another go-around, saying what we love about living here, which was an altogether excellent note on which to end the evening. It also reminded me of the larger lesson I keep learning: focusing on the hard is ok (and even necessary) sometimes, but focusing more on gratitude and the good things sure does feel better.

On Saturday night we had a bonfire, at the visitors’ eager request. It was a cool evening so the warmth of the fire was welcome, and to go along with the fire, there was a little singing, lots of talking, and kids roasting apples on sticks. (Yeah, I’d never seen that before either.) I enjoyed the conversations I had, especially one with a visitor who’s been wanting to come to DR for a really long time and has read the whole website and seen all the videos. She said that to her, meeting Rabbits she’s seen in videos is like meeting movie stars. (Who knew? Apparently I’m famous in some extremely tiny circles!)

She talked about the huge impact Dancing Rabbit had had on her even before she came to visit, and I was glad to tell her that folks like her are inspiring for me as well. Especially after living here for a while, the way we live becomes totally normal, just the way we live. It can start to feel like it isn’t anything special, or that it doesn’t really make much of a difference. So when folks come through who are excited about what we’re doing, and our example helps them to reconsider how they’re living their own lives, it really does help re-inspire me. It’s like a self-reinforcing cycle of inspiration. (Ooo, that’d be a good band name, right?)

Having visitors again has me thinking about upcoming visitor sessions as well. I find myself wondering who will come, what we’ll learn from them, and what kind of impact we’ll have on their lives. I’m especially excited about the women-only visitor session I’ll be one of the liaisons for in September. I’ve been in touch with a number of women from last year’s session, asking if they’ll write about their experiences for our readers, and their response has been very gratifying, so be on the lookout for words from some of them in the not-too-distant future.

In other news, early in the week a crew of Spiral Scouts (the tri-community co-ed scouting group) and friends did the highway cleanup that happens once a year on the stretch of road between Dancing Rabbit/Red Earth and Sandhill. Sounds like they had a good time, and picked up a lot of trash, before heading to Zimmerman’s Cafe in Rutledge for lunch.

I’ve also really enjoyed having Ted’s mom, Anne, in town for a visit. She’s staying at her new place in Rutledge, and I’m looking forward to the open house she’s holding this week, so I can see all the work Bear, Ted, Sara, and Aurelia have done on the house since the last time I was there. Her visit also offers the opportunity to hear (sometimes quite amusing) stories about Ted, and interesting tidbits about Anne’s life and work, and to watch Aurelia enjoy time with her grandmother.

In the happy/sad news department, on Sunday just after the weekly planning meeting, folks were invited out to see the labyrinth that Lucas has finished. He’s been working on it for a while, and completed it with recent help from visitors. It’s beautiful! That’s the happy part. The sad part is that he and Brooke are heading out this week to explore new adventures in parenthood (that part is happy too!) and off-farm living. We so appreciate all they’ve done for our community in the time they’ve been here, and we’ll miss them for sure. I look forward to seeing them when they come to visit with little Luna in tow.

For me personally, this week marked the return of two well-loved things in my life, one expected and one not. While I was away, Alyson at Red Earth began regularly making and selling bread again, and I had been looking forward to tasting it again. On Monday I happily received my first-Alyson-loaf-in-a-very-long-time, directly from her, still warm from the oven. I am not even embarrassed to admit that moments after receiving it I ate almost half the entire thing, which, yes, had been meant to last me the whole week. Sitting on my porch in the lovely spring weather, sesame seeds falling from the thick warm crust into my lap, snarfling up tasty bread… Mmmmm, again.

As for the unexpected return, last year Alyssa offered me a very sad hosta plant that had been in a spot in her yard where it simply wasn’t thriving. I had a nice partly-shady spot near my house where I thought it might do well, and we transplanted it there. It seemed to be doing okay in the fall, so I mulched it and hoped for the best. Cut to early April, and everything else in my yard going wild with new growth, but from the sad hosta spot: nothing. I resigned myself to the fact that the very sad hosta had become the very dead hosta. But then this week, almost overnight, two small green “horns” burst from the ground, and are now unfurling into what certainly appear to be a not-so-sad-after-all hosta. Hooray!

I’m taking it as a sign to not give up hope, and remembering that sometimes surprises are wonderful. May your week be filled with pleasant surprises and springtime abundance!



Quick reminder: On Thursday May 11th, 2017, we hope you’ll join us for Give STL Day! This “24-hour giving event with local impact” offers chances for your donation to our nonprofit to be maximized (we get extra money at no cost to you!), along with prizes and incentives throughout the day. Look for more info from us soon!

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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