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The first day of our first visitor session of the year was a week ago today. It so happened that on that day was the last gasp of winter with a full day of snow, falling for hours like a curtain of white corn flakes. It always amazes me that, one way or another, all the visitors are collected; from the train station, airport or when someone gets lost or their car breaks down, and they usually all make it for dinner on the first day. And so it was with this group, with a Rabbit from DR dispatched to pick up a visitor whose plane was rerouted to Quincy because of the snow. Liz here, with the ins and outs of the last few weeks at Dancing Rabbit.
As it has been for the last three years, the weather plays a big part in the planning for the SubHub natural building project. We have been working on inside tasks, waiting for the weather to warm up so we can begin soaking clay and lime for all the plastering projects that need doing this season. The clay and lime has to be soaked before being mixed with sand, straw, or manure, depending on what type of plaster we are making.
On warmer days we installed exterior trim around the windows and doors of the building. The white oak trim, harvested from trees on a nearby farm and oiled with tung oil, gives the building a more organic appearance. In a week we will begin applying a thin layer of lime plaster, the finish coat for the whole building, and we’ll be able to paint the exterior sometime in June. On cold, windy days (and there were plenty this month!) we applied grout between the kitchen floor tiles, cut and stained pallet boards to cover the kitchen island, and began planning the building of the kitchen cabinets. We also welcomed Mae and K* to the crew. Graham spent many hours sanding the floors of the upstairs lofts.
Along with the usual activities in the first week of the visitor program, such as the Ask a Rabbit evening, a visit to nearby Red Earth Farm, workshops daily about life in our village, about our history, consensus culture, and a tour of the various buildings, we resurrected our morning coffee gatherings at the Mercantile. This DR tradition is a particular favorite of mine. I can get good coffee, catch up with other Rabbits, meet visitors from all over the world and join in the lively debates if I feel like it, all in one stop. It is a great way to start my day.
In just a few weeks, DR will be hosting its 25th anniversary reunion event for about 150 people. There will be plenty of good eats, games, an auction, some singing and a no-talent show. Lots of photos of fresh-faced work exchangers from years ago are already making the rounds for Rabbits to reminisce over the good old days, before we had roads, buildings and established gardens.
Our CSCC nonprofit is hosting several work exchange interns for the second year this year. Last year was definitely a success, with interns being signed out for jobs ranging from gardening, land clearing, weeding, plastering, building and more by various Rabbits in the village. Spring is always an optimistic time of year for Rabbits who are planning projects, such as growing vegetables or building a shed. The interns usually stay for about a month, with some staying on indefinitely, like Nikki, who stayed and became a resident here. It’s a great way for Rabbits to get to know the interns and for the interns to try on living in our village. Last year we had interns clear trees and brush for trenches to be dug for electrical service to be laid for SubHub.
Two weekends ago, Danielle celebrated 10 years of living at Dancing Rabbit with a dinner as a fundraiser for a new village welcome sign. Thirty-two people gathered in the Common House for a feast made by intrepid cook, Cob. Diners all went home with seed packets for a native Missouri wildflower, the ironweed, a tall purple, bottlebrush-shaped flower that grows around the village in the late summer.
It has been a cold, wet spring, and the dairy coop has had to wait a few extra weeks before putting the goats out to pasture, moving the fences every few days around parts of the village. I enjoy watching the goat kids gamboling in the green grass as I walk by, with the does watching my dog, Roxie, passing by with close attention.
Before I moved to DR and began building a building, I loved watching the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun, about a woman who impulsively buys an Italian villa and fixes it up, gaining friends, confidence and joy along the way. There is a line in the movie, where she muses that she is “building a house for a life I don’t have yet.” And so, too, am I. With every major task we finish, I catch a glimpse of this life that we are creating, as when Graham creates a beautiful wooden doorway header over the main entrance to SubHub with the motto, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” or when we see the exterior trim go up after waiting for two years for the time to be right, or when the SubHub building crew came back from volunteering at an Indigenous ecovillage in March, bursting with ideas and enthusiasm.
May your life be infused with purpose and movement toward the life you imagine in your future.
Liz Hackney serves as the editor of this newsletter. She wears many hats right now: acupuncturist, building designer, tiler, building supplies procurement, earth plasterer, and SubHub tour guide. She can’t wait for this cold spring wind to stop blowing…