September rolled in quietly last week while my attention was elsewhere. Now I find myself halfway through the remaining few weeks of summer, finally enjoying as many tomatoes and dropping peaches as I care to eat. I’m appreciating these cooler days and nights, as well, even though they portend the waning of the season when such delights will eventually come to an end for the year. Ted here, to bring you the latest from Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.
This week bridged one big event and another; from the Singing Rabbit event we hosted here on Labor Day weekend to our annual Open House this past weekend. It was an entire week of weather that either threatened or produced significant amounts of rain, certainly in comparison to our extremely parched summer.
With the return of moisture to the land, the fungi have awoken here in NEMO. My friend Alyson reported (and delivered a specimen of) two different bioluminescent fungi observed growing along the path in the woods she traverses regularly between Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage and the adjoining Red Earth Farms. Some internet research turned up no mention whatsoever of any such beings living in our area. New sighting? They are certainly fun to look at in the dark!
DR work exchanger Charlotte came in from a walk Saturday morning before Open House with a beautiful array of a dozen or so species of fungi she’d seen while walking on the land here. Some edible, some not; all beautiful. I haven’t had time to go out searching at length myself, but there have been plenty to see all around the homestead on my daily rounds.
Homeschool began again last week (after Labor Day, which was the norm when I was a kid). I’ve taken on teaching geography with a sideline in current events to Aurelia and Emma this year. I’m just getting into the swing of it and having fun, so far, with climate patterns, biomes, nutrient cycles, and all sorts of other interesting things.
Christina, last week, mentioned the songs running in her head as a result of the singing event we hosted and I can definitely attest to a similar impact. For days, I’ve had songs steadily burbling up in my mind while at work on other things. Whole songs in languages I don’t speak (including two out of three of those Georgian and Balkan tunes Christina mentioned last week) took over my brain space for hours at a time, assembling into some reasonably coherent, mental recordings. One afternoon, I heard Darien on his accordion picking out the tune and chord changes of a song that was also stuck on intermittent repeat in my head. It was fun to realize I was not alone with the background music.
If each of us who attended can bring at least one new melody into our regular song circle, our expanded repertoire will grow even richer. I don’t love repetition, so that suits me well.
The mid-week rain ran in torrents through our neck of the woods, the underlying soil so long dried out that it couldn’t absorb much at first. Tuesday afternoon, there was a steady stream flowing down to and through the door of our shed. I tried hastily to reestablish and encourage some of the drainage features we’ve installed previously. The hydraulic engineering work of tunneling moles also made itself known, where a rivulet would disappear into one hole and re-emerge as a fountain from another 15 feet downhill.
With the approach of Open House and no break in the weather expected, I began to fret that our paths would be impassable for tours come the weekend, but our path maintenance manager Kyle managed to conjure a couple good piles of chip-mulch mid-week to cover and repair some of the essential village paths, despite the wet weather, and a handful of us helped disperse it just in time.
Saturday’s weather turned up grey but merely damp, fair enough that a stream of 50-plus folks came to tour the village in the afternoon. Receiving tours at Ironweed kitchen to talk about alternative energy for a few minutes, I marveled as I do each year at the variety of wonderful people and interests we meet and learn about at this event. Thanks to all who came out to visit! And, well met.
Speaking of well met; Friday morning, as we were finishing breakfast, Althea came charging up to the screen door to share that “Lexie had seven plump piglets!” Aurelia disappeared with her to go meet the new critters and didn’t turn up again for a couple hours. I went down to meet them the other day, and they are indeed, extremely cute, little bundles of soft fur with scrunched snouts. Sadie is due soon, too, so the barn will soon be o’er run with wee four-leggeds.
Sunday, at our Village Council meeting, we discussed the findings of the ad-hoc, alternative-fuels, research group for our vehicle co-op. One of our six covenants specifies that we will not use fossil fuels for transportation, and for many years, we have bought diesel vehicles and run them on biodiesel for as much of the year as we could. Winter-cold makes biodiesel gel, however, and so we have regularly had to blend in petrodiesel for the cold months. Changes in diesel engines also mean that to run 100% biodiesel requires vehicles produced before 2007, and vehicles do wear out.
Newer vehicle tech, especially hybrid electrics, have lower lifetime and operational emissions than conventional cars, especially when they can be charged on green power such as we produce for ourselves at Dancing Rabbit. We do not change our ecological covenants lightly but are now considering what the most potent fuel covenant could be, while still matching the reality of our experience. Our research has shown that our vehicle-sharing and ride-sharing efforts have the biggest impact in reducing our individual and collective carbon footprints. Humans’ reliance on fossil fuels is one of the most central issues of our times, so we want to get this right, and continue to ratchet down our impact.
Even if you decided not to come out for our Open House in the wet weather, it isn’t too late to stop by for a public tour this year. We are still offering public tours at 1pm on second and fourth Saturdays through October, so please do come out and enjoy the onset of autumn here in the village.
Here’s hoping your upcoming harvests are bountiful, with sun and rain each in good measure. Thanks for keeping up with the news from our village and we hope to see you here again soon!
Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and educational nonprofit near Rutledge, MO, focused on demonstrating sustainable living possibilities. For more information, see our website at www.dancingrabbit.org.