Monday, September 28, 2009

A week at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

This text was originally written for the Dancing Rabbit column in the Memphis Democrat.

Land Clean 2009
Left to right: Dennis & Enzio (in trailer), Alyssa, Aurelia & Danielle (with wheelbarrows)

Hi everyone. This is Alline with this week’s update from Dancing Rabbit.

Ten years ago when I was living in a city in a mild climate, the weather didn’t affect me much. I went from my home to my car to whatever building I was going to. The weather was something that I observed from inside, through a window. It never snowed, was never icy, rarely flooded, rarely was very hot. Only a few weeks a year, when I went backpacking in the Sierra Nevada mountains did I really pay attention to the weather. There I learned to read the clouds, and familiarized myself with weather patterns and storm conditions. My safety depended on it and I found it really interesting. However, back in the city, this information went largely unused.
Land Clean 2009
Danielle, Cob, Ali & Papa Bear celebrate after putting a piano in its place

Now that I live in rural Northeastern Missouri all of that has changed. Weather has become an integral component to so much of what we do. We watch the clouds, listen to the weather report, and some of us even have the NOAA weather on the startup pages of our computers. We’ve all become like stereotypical “old folks,” always talking about the weather. Our power sytems depend on sun and wind – when it is sunny and windy, our batteries are full and happy. Much of our food depends upon the weather - too much or too little of rain or sun or wind may mean the difference between an abundant harvest and a puny one (I have developed new empathy for farmers – what a wild ride they go on every single growing season!). We hang our laundry out to dry (we choose not to use electric or gas clothes dryers here, as they use a lot of power), utilize passive solar food dehydrators, and eat our meals outside whenever possible. Building season is also weather dependent – only interior work can be done in the rain, and we don’t like the straw bales with which we’re building to get wet, either.

Land Clean 2009
Sheila weeds in front of the Outdoor Kitchen; the courtyard and Community Building in the background, our new "grassy paver" road on the right.

Today is windy, blustery, blowy and fabulous. It is a perfect day for laundry. I look forward to this evening when I can take my sun and wind-dried sheets and towels and clothes and fold them, inhaling the fragrance of the outdoors. You’ll never be able to convince me that a “Sunshine Fresh” dryer sheet can compare.

Land Clean 2009
Rachel, taking a break from sawing firewood, proves that the women of DR not only love but can maintain power tools.

Weather aside, it has been a busy week. Tuesday we had a community land clean – we all met in the courtyard at 9:30 a.m., gloves and rakes in hand. We tidied the courtyard, mulched paths, cut weeds, weeded flower beds, cleared out junk and loaded it into the trailer to take to the dump, and generally made our home more presentable. Much like cleaning one’s house for company, we were happy with the results. Everyone helped, even 3-year old Aurelia and 2-year old Zane. Aurelia, with her own wheelbarrow, helped bring mulch to where it was needed. Zane, with his Tonka dump truck and back hoe, made sure the mulch was applied correctly.

Land Clean 2009
Cynder sweeps in the OK

Wednesday night we had song circle. We choose to use no accompaniment for these evenings, and no songbooks, either. We’ve found that when we have songbooks we are all looking down instead of looking at one another. We each take a turn choosing a song or teaching the group a new one. Our repertoire continues to grow, and includes everything from a windmill song and the Hobbit drinking song to one Tereza learned at Bryn Mawr, which we sing at the end of each song circle as we are all walking to our respective homes. It is almost magical to hear the song echoing from throughout the village, under the stars, becoming more and more faint…

Land Clean 2009
Tom in his lumberjack disguise, which includes kevlar pants and a chainsaw.

Thursday night we received almost 3” of rain. We worried that our annual Open House, which was scheduled for Saturday, would be rained out like last year, when all of the roads surrounding Dancing Rabbit were flooded.

Land Clean 2009
Ziggy and Thomas adjust a clothesline. It is obviously very serious business.

Friday was sunny and absolutely perfect. In the evening wehad a waltz class taught by Boone (he used to be “Dan,” – and actually is to most of his family and friends - but there are already two Dans here at Dancing Rabbit and the rule is that if you aren’t the first, you have to change your name. It’s just too confusing otherwise, and we’re already confused as it is…). Tamar played fiddle, Dave played mandolin, and everyone flowed gracefully around the dance floor – more or less. 1-2-3, 1-2-3…

When Saturday dawned rainy and wet we began to gnaw at our fingernails, worried that all our preparation for Open House would be in vain. Fortunately the sun came out mid-morning and the sky presented us with clouds worthy of a Winslow Homer landscape.

Our Open House came off without a hitch. Everyone participated; there were folks directing parking, greeting guests, leading tours, hosting tour stops, and answering all kinds of questions. We were delighted to see many old friends and to have the opportunity to meet new folks. Thanks to everyone who stopped by!

1 comment:

mother earth aka karen hanrahan said...

this is so very cool - always enjoy a pictoral essay, but it's even better with your commentary