This is my first winter in the Midwest. Liz here, watching the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, and reviewing the bits of advice and commentary people have been giving me about winter since I moved here from California seven short months ago.
I was actually disappointed that my time outside was about to decrease and I watched people here pull up spent vegetable stalks, cover everything with straw and retreat inside. My son came to visit me for two weeks recently and in thinking of things we could do together I remembered that he and I attended a permaculture course at Dancing Rabbit over a year ago. I decided to concentrate on that and quickly drew up a sketch of my garden and made plans to have my son help me do some permaculture plantings with what we could plant in the early winter season.
We planted fruit trees, each tree forming the center of a guild, or groupings of plants that would enhance the soil, keep the prairie grass at bay and attract bees and other pollinators. In early winter bulbs can be planted, so we planted iris, daffodils and garlic bulbs. We ordered hazelnut trees and apple trees. We planted other edibles with extras from my neighbors, such as comfrey, chickweed and sunchokes. I transplanted yarrow from my veggie garden. We planted rows of seed trays for arugula and different kales in the greenhouse attached to my cottage.
And there we were, out in the cool weather for a few hours most days and in the evenings we had our laptops out, reading aloud to each other ideas or information from different websites. It was the best I could hope for: collaboration, creativity, learning, being active outdoors and creating happy memories with my adult son. I enjoyed watching him get to know my co-op kitchen mates each evening at dinner in the warm and welcoming atmosphere of Thistledown.
I know that the days will come when the ground will be frozen and it will be too cold to spend much time outside. So it is with some urgency that I make my list each day of gardening things that I can still do, and I reconcile myself to the coming winter.
And just as the seasons inevitably turn, so too changes come to the village. Benji and I threw a party at the Mercantile last week to celebrate becoming members of the community, and Alline made her gorgeous cappuccino brownies. Just days later we threw Brent a goodbye party before he left the village for his upcoming move to Nicaragua (Alline made him a rainbow-colored cake with rainbow sprinkles and rainbow M&Ms). Several Rabbits are completing their membership processes in the next few days, with two families in the wings for hitting their 6-month residency milestones.
A group of Rabbits travelled to Kirksville to see the movie, “Walk With Me,” about the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh and his monastery Plum Village in France. We had dinner at Take Root, a cafe that offers great food on a sliding scale (their Cuban sandwich is fantastic!). I am inspired to volunteer there to support their mission and to get to know more food folks who share my passion for local, seasonal food and to learn more about their innovative business model.
There was a reunion of the Mercantile’s writer’s workshop this last weekend, bringing together Rabbits and people from as far away as Michigan and Chicago. One participant returned in his live-aboard bus with his significant other, cooking up delicious meals for the writers.
Activities for winter are revving up with regular dance, meditation, qigong, and a writer’s group planned, in addition to the continuing poker night and Sci Fi movie night. While I am enjoying the slowing down of visitors and related activities, I’m glad to see that there will be plenty of fun things to choose from this winter.
Last week, as I was planting garlic bulbs in Cob’s lower garden, I paused and let the breeze cool the sweat on my face. It was sunny and cold and suddenly I noticed the absence of insects buzzing in my ear, biting my arms, and crawling on me as they do in the summer, the absence of curious birds flitting about. Just silence. Silence, filling my heart with peace. The silence that listens, as Tara Brach puts it. The winter season is for drinking in the silence so we can hear our true heartbeat and know ourselves and not forget what our life’s purpose is. I felt a rush of joy because I was so happy to be here, alive, digging in the ground, planting, creating, and helping.
Reminder: We hope you’ll join us for #GivingTuesday on November 28, 2017! On this national day of giving your gift to support our nonprofit’s work will be DOUBLED due to a very generous donor who will match the first $2000 we raise! Look here for more info, follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates, and don’t forget to mark your calendar for November 28, 2017!
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 (dancingrabbiticorg) .