Monday, April 2, 2012

Update 9

Dear families and friends of the 2012 Vermont Semester,

I’m Willie, the new scribe and logistics manager this spring.

I am very excited to be writing the updates and keeping all of you informed.
We recently arrived at NorthWoods Stewardship Center, our mid-point between winter and spring expeditions where we will be staying for a month. 

After two-and-a-half months, we finally wrapped up the winter with the closing of our original big jobs. Now, we are excited to begin a new season, having accepted our new “Large Jobs”.

We are all gearing up to accomplish more great things. The Spring Large Job list is as follows:

            Canoe Manager- Malcolm
            River Food Manager/ Botanist- Josia
            Base Camp Food And Kitchen Manager- Dean
            Camp And Gear Manager/ Meteorologist- Adam
            Medic/ Forager- Conor
            Sewing Manager/ Buckskin Manager- Everett
            Scribe And Logistics Manager- Willie
            Fire And Energy Manager/ Botanist- Noah
            Navigator/ Ornithologist- Michal

Coupled with some of the Large Jobs are new “Small Jobs” that are unique to the spring (Large Jobs are in bold type, Small Jobs are underlined). Everyone is excitedly taking on their new jobs.

Our first major task upon arrival at NorthWoods was camp setup. Honey Hollow, a large A-frame canvas tent, was put up first for use as a kitchen, dining, and meeting area. Next, we put up three smaller A-frame tents, one for use as the girls’ sleeping tent and two for use as teacher sleeping quarters. The expedition tent was set up as the guys’ sleeping quarters. 

Our next major task was paddle making, which Grandfather came to teach. Grandfather is a wilderness guide from Maine who is a dear friend to Kroka.  He also was a teacher and mentor to Chris and Ashira, Chris’s wife, who will be teaching us to make our packbaskets. Grandfather stayed with us for three days, guiding us through the paddle making process and sharing his endless supply of wisdom with us.

Andrew had left us on March 24, and considering how much he put into our winter expedition, we decided to thank him in a unique way. Our thank you card to him was a game of “Telephone-Pictionary” that was revolved around a phrase expressing Andrew’s awesomeness. Telephone-Pictionary, for those of you who do not know, is a drawing and writing game. 

We first played the game as a group on the Entire Group Solo near the end of the third leg. Everyone starts by writing a phrase on a piece of paper. Next, the page is passed to the next person in the circle. Their task is to depict that phrase in a drawing. After the first phrase is drawn, the pages are passed again. Now the drawing must be described by a phrase. The game continues in this way for as long as the players choose to continue. It is pretty much guaranteed that the ending phrase will be hilariously different from the original. Some of the pages from Andrew’s thank-you began with phrases like “Andrew, you are a shining star” and ended with phrases like “The protostar turned into a giant and imploded into a black hole.” We had a lot of fun with that card.

On the 29th, Nathan came up from Kroka to teach us physics. We spent the day on the 30th talking about different energy forms and the movement of energy through everyday processes and its conversion into its different forms. The next day we had a lab day. We basically got to play with batteries, switches, and light bulbs to our hearts’ content (we had real assignments making circuits, but it felt like we were just playing around). Nathan left yesterday to go back to Kroka, but Chris, Ashira, and family showed up around 1:00. 

After making our physics presentations, we set out with Chris and his son Owen to procure a brown ash tree for pounding and basket making (Adam was thrilled to find out that Owen, who is four years old, is very interested in the American Revolution). We drove out to the highway and walked up the snow mobile trail along the Clyde River (a little blast from the past and reminder of our group solos). A few minutes after we began poking around in the woods, we found the ideal ash tree. We notched and thanked the tree in preparation for the saw-down. Noah gave the tree a big hug and a pat on the back. The group hauled the tree in chunks back to the van and we returned to NorthWoods. This morning, Chris gave us the introduction to brown ash pounding. The sound of mallets on the logs provides a quiet rhythm to the day as I write. Over the next few days, Chris and Ashira will guide us through the basket making process, helping us make our spring pack baskets.

As usual, a little peek into our “Pushups And Poetry” sessions is in store. Enjoy!

Right now
This exact instant
I feel so wonderfully
Home, with my chosen family.
Today, we played tag
And all felt like the luckiest little children
That there ever were.
So many times tonight
I nearly died laughing
Into my leader’s
My mentor
My friend’s arms.
There was so much love in the air today.
I feel like yesterday, communicating
Just thinking about communicating
Made such an enormous difference.
I feel like some invisible barrier was broken down
The Berlin wall crumpled
And the joy and love we have for one another
The ways we show and tell one another about it
Just surged right in afterwards.
We spent evening meeting telling Lu how much we love her
And then keeling over our bubbling stomachs
Laughing loud and strong
About the bubbles, and about our silliness.

Willie - “Med Bag Blues”
Whether you get diarrhea
And need the Diarrex
Or glycerin suppositories
for the opposite effects

It’s all in the med bag
The red dry sack

If you get yourself cut
And you need patching up
Get the gauze out
Don’t be shy

It’s all in the med bag
It’s always standing by

I am always amazed by the power of small triumphs and simple gestures. They affect my mood and my work, shaping my life. They are the small speck of bark left on a paddle handle, or the feeling that I get finishing it, knowing that it is my best work.
Problems always seem to come in chunks, and all at once. They pile into a mountain you don’t want to cross, until you notice the snow.
It’s falling onto the trees, which are waiting just ahead, waiting to offer a hand or just to watch over you as you go.
So much friendship happens in silence, when you take a moment from your like to observe someone else’s, pondering it, wondering what they are thinking and where they are headed.
You are standing by, ready the moment they need a hand, a shoulder or a kick in the butt.
We are made aware of the waiting by the little things.
You hear your friends singing a joke to you and feel like the most loved person in the world.
A sheepish grin from across the room –
A witty joke

Well, that’s all for now. Stay tuned in for our next update!
-Willie C.
(Insert 15-minute improvised instrumental solo here)

1 comment:

  1. Happy Easter in East Charleston! Happy Passover, too. Maybe you'll have a chance to dye some eggs. Have fun with family visits. Love to Everett from M&L&M&T