Life on the hill is good: planting in the garden is progressing well. It has been warm enough for us to jump into the pond – however brief! The water still feels cold to me.

We certainly enjoyed the rains last week – it really perked up the grass, wildflowers, garden & field crops.

Our big news is that last Saturday we had our annual Mayday party and celebrated Sandhill’s 40th anniversary! We had former members from MO, KS, & Mississippi join us as well as friends in the area. The weather was perfect!

We began in the morning; over coffee, we began sharing memories. Then I took former members and a visitor on a tour of Sandhill – seeing the place to how it has evolved.  That turned into more stories – so the tour took 3 hours.

After lunch we had “story time”. We sat in a circle in the shade of a cedar tree: former and current members & interns, as well as friends/neighbors shared stories of how we came to Sandhill, various impressions, and memories of our experiences at Sandhill. It was quite lively and entertaining. The last time I remember having a similar session was at our 20th anniversary. Then there was more sharing informally – in small groups. In the meantime, the kids were climbing trees nearby.

Now it was time for the Maypole dance: we had a new maypole (black locust) this year, it was 14’ above ground and we put it in the ground upside down (intentionally – Darien noted that he’d read that posts last longer in the ground that way). Folks attached 48 ribbons/streamers to the top of the pole (2 different bright colors). Folks took 1 ribbon each and after instructions: half of us (one color) went in one direction and the other half went in the opposite direction; each person weaving their ribbon under and over the next person. This way the different color ribbons were woven on the pole. This dance was accompanied by music from two friends from Redearth farms. There was lots of laughter and many smiles – especially from the children. After the dance, Aurelia from Dancing Rabbit climbed up the pole – another tradition (at least at Sandhill).There were also about 30 of us who watched, took photos, and cheered them on. It was very festive.

We do the mayday/maypole to welcome spring and celebrate the earth becoming alive again: with trees waking up and new plant growth – GREEN everywhere! And we celebrate the connections we humans have with the earth: natural rhythms of the seasons and the return of vegetative growth – on which we all depend.

After the maypole, some folks jumped into the pond and played in the water. It seemed that it was mostly the younger folks that were in the water. That was followed by a potluck meal: folks brought food and there was plenty for everyone. More sharing over food.

After some time, the bell rang again and it was time for the sweat lodge; several people had been stoking a fire all day to heat up fire bricks & chunks of metal. The sweat lodge is a little hut down by one of our ponds that seats about 8 folks. The hot rocks/metal are placed in a pit in the middle of the hut and then water is slowly poured over the hot rocks – producing steam. Since it is small, the hut quickly fills up with steam and folks begin to sweat. The idea is that the sweating is a cleansing of the body – impurities/toxins are released. It is an old tradition from various cultures all over the world – including native Americans. After 15 – 30 minutes, folks come out of the sweat lodge and jump into the pond – YIKES! It’s cold! But it is also very invigorating and rejuvenating. Not all of us did the sweat lodge; some folks sat by the fire or at the house – enjoying the evening and more visiting.

Then it was my bedtime.

Celebrating our anniversary, we Sandhillians are deeply appreciative of having been on this land & in this county for 40 years. We are appreciative of the many friends we have here and how we have been welcomed and accepted in this community. We feel truly blessed.

Happy spring to y’all!