Saturday, June 2, 2012

Update 14

Hey everyone!

We’ve already been here at Kroka for almost two weeks and we’ve been quite busy. When we arrived on May 17, we were met by the image of an awesome new pond. Many new plants had already been planted around it and the water was quite inviting, but we had work to do.

We spent the first few days getting back into the groove of base camp life and wrapping up our spring expedition. We started doing morning chores again, like in January, but we weren’t milking Daisy anymore. Instead, we were moving rocks to the New Lodge for use in the new foundation we planned on building. 

The weekend came quickly and on Saturday, we took a spontaneous field trip to Orchard Hill, where there were Morris dancers performing. In the evening, Josia received a surprise visit from her Morris dance team. We had a potluck meal and a good time. Josia was very happy. 

On Sunday, the San Diego Waldorf School returned from expedition and ended their Kroka trip. We made and shared dinner with them and had our second eventful dinner here (all dinners are a special occasion, but sometimes we get to share a meal with special company). 

On Monday, May 21, we planted more plants around the pond and learned a bit about the ecological plans for it. The same day, Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School arrived for the beginning of their Kroka experience. On Tuesday morning, we did our chores with the assistance of the Hawthorne Valley students. They helped us with nailing the cedar boards onto the new boardwalk, carrying rocks, cleaning, and farm chores. Also on Tuesday, our lodge-rebuilding project officially began with a trip to a nearby piece of land to harvest fir poles. 

Laurel joined us as our lodge-building teacher and an arborist named Swift also joined us for the day. It became instantly clear that Swift was quite a character. He made his job sound like it’s official description could be something like “climbing from and tending to trees” or simply “tree swinger”. He showed off his puppy Gemini, his climbing gear, his chainsaw, and some of the meat from the turkey he had recently shot (it tasted good). 

We spent the day wandering through the woods until we found a large stand of firs, where we cut just over seventy. One knows they belong to an interesting logging operation when a fifteen-passenger van is hauling seventy fir poles on a canoe trailer. We spent all day Wednesday peeling those poles. At the end of the day, we began removing sod from the roof of the lodge. We got to peer under the soil and see a little bit more of how the lodge was built. Underneath the sod was re-used billboard material, the waterproof layer that kept us dry during the winter. 

Thursday was official lodge takedown day. The last of the sod was removed, the billboard material layer was taken off, and the wooden skeleton was dismantled and the poles organized by part of the lodge they belong to. Seeing an empty space where our January home once stood was a shocker and a surprise every time we walked up the hill. 

On Friday, we began moving dirt up to the lodge base to build a taller foundation. Wheelbarrow load after wheelbarrow load went by, and, with the help of some truckloads, we got most of the foundation done. On Saturday, we got up early and packed into the van for a weekend trip back to Heartbeet for a youth conference on conflict resolution. In just a few hours, we retraced the steps of almost our entire spring expedition as we drove along Interstate 91. We had a great time at Heartbeet on Saturday and Sunday. We stuffed ourselves on abundant food, swam in the pond, sat in the woods, and participated in fun, interesting workshops and listened to a few lectures. The folks there really are great and we spent a good chunk of time making sure we said goodbye properly. 
Next thing we knew, it was Monday morning and we were working on the lodge again. We finished the foundation with a rock ring to help stabilize the poles that would be going up and even got the first poles up. On Tuesday, we continued putting up poles, added the structures for the door and window, and put in the rings of hardwood saplings that provide a lot of structural support. The process continued today, Wednesday, and the lodge is really starting to look like a lodge again. I walked through the entry way and into the open space where we once slept and I felt a hint of what it felt like to walk in and out in January. We are working hard and making the most of the experience.


Here are some selections from our recent work.  We hope you enjoy them!

Going home
Where is home?
finding it
defining it
home is wherever I can feel at home within myself
Home is under the yellow birch tree at the edge of the grassy clearing
spanning the thin stream
on the log that lay over the lower part where it began bubbling over rocks
I came home to the group after sitting out the beginning of the river trip. I was greeted with such warm familiar smiles and hugs that the frustration of my dysfunctional knee ceased, briefly, to matter.
in the winter, I learned to be strong
but on the river I learned to be human
a person can be strong and capable and at the same time
weak, fragile, and impossibly helpless
I learned to gracefully accept the help I needed
hide tanning
friction fires
and moccasins
such important ties to the earth that with each lesson
I grew closer to the awakening forest
each wild edible that we learned and ate
is a step closer to sustaining myself from the land
a step closer to the forest
a step towards home

Almost everything is more beautiful at night
because at night you can truly notice light
Whether it is a whole black landscape
of fireflies flowing in no surefire direction,
a field of shooting stars beneath the dark rolling sky,
or a circle of bright lights
holding hands and singing as the sun sets
and the world becomes soft

Along the winding brown Connecticut River
Past fields and muddy flood plains forested with shaggy silver maples
Under bridges and through the darker deciduous forests that rise steeper up the bank of the river
Around bends in the slow moving current
We wound our way home
A return journey

Laid back and swift
As we rode the rivers home
There were cold rainy wet days
Snow and sleet pelted us
Happy warm days saw us napping in canoes
Through all this it was a closing
And a celebration
A coming to the end of a journey
The beginning of another
This was a celebration of what we have done and what we can do
We saw more life returning to the land
Buds, then leaves and birds
Bringing the summer
Celebration the sun and warmth and our lives
The river kept running its course
Yet we did not
And as it continues on down to the sea
We leave it behind.
Knowing only a little of it
Only its mood in one place on one given day
Only a small fraction of its water
To know something so huge would be to know
The oldest gnarled tree and its long life
Its roots spring out
Down into something even greater and more massive
It is old
Yet new every day
Reborn with fresh water that its banks have never yet seen
A celebration of our journey
Our lives
The river in its age

Moose Maple
All the moose maple wants to do is drink up water through its roots and soak up the sun with its broad flat leaves. A moose may come along and chew him up or a person may pick his leaves, but no one can stop the moose maple from doing what he does best, reaching for the sun, slurping up the rainwater, and thriving.
People may say he’s not as good as the other maples, with his smaller, weaker wood and no sweet sap for syrup, but the moose maple doesn’t care.  His purpose is not to be cut down to build some boring old house or to have his blood poured over pancakes.  His purpose is simply to grow and he needs nobody to tell him how to do that.
The moose maple may have trouble.  Maybe a larger tree will cast his shadow over him, making growth more challenging, or maybe a moose will eat all his buds.  He can resist the shade.  He can grow new buds.  When he’s done growing, he will fall over, decompose into the soil and give other trees a chance to grow. No matter what any one says, the moose maple has a purpose.

I am growing, becoming
a sunflower, a willow tree, a mosquito
words walk out of my heart, through my mouth
open up the previously locked metal grated door
an ocean erupts
starfish clamp on
salt stings in old wounds
but then there is clarity
my voice
it belongs to me
I control it
stand clear- or prepare for a deluge

more definitely able to reason
some  concrete skills now exist
floating around on brain clouds
but above them
there’s a rainbow
a really super proud one
full of dignity and optimism and courage
It’s tinged with doubt
loathing, violence, frustration
it’s only ephemeral
still wobbly and delicate
though rooted deep in history
the future could bring anything

Solo Camp on NH bank near Jarvis Island
I step on rock
sink into mud
listening and feeling
for a thud
Always careful
is the fool
who thinks he needs
every damn tool
So the pack is heavy
pad in my hand
navigating rocks and silt
and sometimes sand
Scale up
crawl back down
It’s now unclear
where my feet are bound
Hike up the side
grabbing hold of trees
holding and pulling
on my knees
Walk a bit
pass a camp
walk up a hill
like a wheelchair ramp
And so I found
my place to stay
oh, look, turns out
I’m in Josia’s way
Set out again
on the ridge line
looking for something
something fine
Put down the pad

collect sticks and such
start a fire
it didn’t take much
Leave the bread raw
kinda cooked it on a stick
set out looking for a flat rock to pick
Come back empty handed
knew I would
set my bowl
on sticks of wood
Spilled water
spilled noodles
I kinda felt like
I was fighting with poodles
Threw in some butter
Threw in some cheese
hoping at night
I won’t freeze

I hear the lonesome train calling me across the river
I hear it calling screaming yelling with a fierce quiver
I hear the wheels come crashing trashing round my head
Telling me to come be free to run away and not be scared
I hear the train go screaming past and steaming by
I wished that I could climb aboard and try to soar
attempt to fly
I hear the furnace roar for more to feed this beast a feast of flame
I long to ride this wild horse, a horse unbroken, free, untamed
I hear it howling back in the woods it coaxes me come see new land
I still don’t move as it runs by
I just watch and hear and stand
I hear the haunting whistle cry one last try it pleads for me to run away
but its not the time I must decline for another train some other day
For now a boat shall carry me
and on the water I shall be free

Moments from the River
Crossing Island Pond in heavy wind, struggling furiously to remain on course while rocking in the whitecaps and being very afraid.  Then, singing till we took out.
Beaver-dam “leap-frogging” with Everett.  I get out onto the dam and drag the canoe across, while he crawls to the bow and I jump in as I shove off and we paddle on to the next dam.
Cold and wet on the Clyde.  Realizing that I loved being there, doing this, and wanted to be nowhere else.
Laying I a pile of sleeping bags at camp after ferrying across rapids on the Nulhegan.  The snow was falling, but I was a cozy sausage of warmth, and surrounded by people that I love.

Staring up at the massive Gilman and Comerford dams.  Later that week we talked about dams and energy and river ecology.  The alarm for the dams water release system was broken and it sounded like something out of war of the worlds.
Sitting up against massive hemlocks on Nine Island in the rain, looking out at the river during morning meditation.
Being absolutely petrified of the whitewater day at Sumner Falls, before, during, and after.  I would do it again though.
Following the history of the landscape as we paddled through it.  Seeing the sites of a former Native American town, log circles in the river, and many old farms.
Portaging our semester’s canoe up the final few miles of hills until reaching the boat landing at Lake Warren.
Feeling totally validated paddling solo across Lake Warren with a huge thunderhead coming in and the sun setting beautifully.  The first time I paddled solo I was nervous and could barely move, let alone steer.  But that was at the beginning…
Reaching Kroka laden down with our gear on the final portage home, and seeing the office staff burst from the farmhouse and come running down the road toward us.

Spring Expedition
Water riffles away from the hull of the canoe
Swirls of water follow my paddle
A heavy drizzle disturbs the surface
I become entranced by the rhythm
stroke by stroke I fall deeper into my thoughts
The dark green banks rise up to meet the swirling sky
Awakened by sudden chaos, my eyes follow their flight
Swallows are darting about
Skimming across the surface, eating flies
I adjust to this new rhythm and appreciate the sight
I paddle in beauty 
I paddle in peace

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