Thursday, July 18, 2013

Intern Arrival

Last Thursday night, just before 10 pm, a crew of rumpled teenagers emerged from a Subaru covered with bumper stickers that read "Armed Liberal" and "Fuck the revolution, Bring on the Apocalypse." Crumbs stuck to their shirts, and hair pointed in the many directions they came from. They ambled down the wood chip path, whooping and hollering to announce their arrival. Entering the barn bearing the relief of arrival after weeks on the road, they greeted a rather perplexed Jo. 

For the past year Jo has lived in the barn as a caretaker, and rather than asking her to vacate her home to make room for the interns, we created a space for them up here on Dev's property. After about five minutes they gingerly stood from their places on Jo's couch, realizing they were in someone else's home, not in the intern house.

So far we built a low ropes course and then tried it out, went hiking and picked berries all along the way --service berries, thimble berries, goose berries and raspberries. We talked about communication, active listening, and what sustainability means. Then we got ready for camp, figuring out who would lead a wild edible workshop, a camp fire skit, a fort building activity. We spent hours bent over liberating onions and leeks from the tangle of ambitious weeds.

The interns are here to run three "sustainable" green camps, work on local farms, develop outdoor and leadership skills, but in all honesty, we have them here so we can live like we're at camp. We spin a chore wheel daily, dance at all hours, snort on our meals because laughter is constant. And if you were ever doubting your housemate's ability to keep a clean house, invite seven teenagers to live with you in a small space. It's an exercise in organized chaos.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The No-Nonsense Lessons Taught by Butchering

I woke up this morning swearing that I was going after the chickens with a shot gun--as if I would know how to use one, yet alone hit anything....Their 5 am cackles and squawks continue to conflict with my desire to live a harmonious life with all creatures, great and small.

I finished my day butchering a baby meat bird with a bum leg who hobbled around pathetically getting trampled by the others. I mixed the meat of the little guy into our dinner tonight which we ate while discussing the chicken who lays translucent, soft eggs. I can only imagine these strange eggs come from Bear-Bare Butt, who likely lost the part of her anatomy that hardens the eggs to the bear who tried to chomp her. I am prepared to butcher her later this week. No point in feeding a bird that doesn't produce.

It wasn't always this way. I moved to Paonia five years ago a staunch vegetarian of 12 years which included two years as a vegan. My friend Emily made the transition from our liberal arts college to the town's leading expert on butchering with little hesitation or previous experience while I attempted to hide the fact that parts of country living made me uncomfortable. I couldn't control the instinct to cover my eyes and run when faced with death.

Rural living has taught me a bit about no-nonsense resourcefulness, though I still have a long way to go. I still haven't killed anything myself, though the blood and guts don't bother me and I'm petrified of facing another mountain lion or a bear. Even dealing with skunks requires me to practice deep breathing and ample self-coaching; otherwise I am no different from our screeching darting chickens. I want to know and experience that I am a part of the natural world. Like a pioneer who possesses a blend of dauntless grit, some day I will be as assuredly pragmatic as I am untamed.