|Memphis Democrat Column Week of 1/25/10
||[Jan. 26th, 2010|10:19 pm]
little miss earth goddess
There are certain times of year when I find myself more aware of the differences between how and where I choose to live and the other choices I might have made. This week was one of them.
A week at a time of cloudy weather is not terribly uncommon here, particularly in winter, and our power systems are generally sized to make it through such stretches. But two weeks straight... well, when one relies on the lack of clouds for one's power, it begins to feel a little gratuitous.
Ted here at Dancing Rabbit with this week's update. Had the sun not shone unexpectedly for much of this afternoon, this might be a slightly darker (and more brief!) report, but despite the sun we still found ourselves eating dinner with our friends by candlelight this evening. (We generally update our daily power status first thing each morning, when one gets the truest reading of the state of charge in one's battery bank). Normally I enjoy dining by candlelight. But in this case, we've already been at it for most of a week, and have in fact burned through most of the supply of candles accumulated in the Community Building supply, so that we only had one candle per table of six to eight. Makes it a little harder to see your food!
This is the first time the Community Building has ever experienced black power on the power chart that tracks where the building's power supply is at. Starting at green power, where we're free to use flour grinders, dehydrators, battery chargers, computers and anything else we like, the chart descends to yellow, orange and red with increasingly stringent rules for each level on what one may do with the building's power at that level. At black, we shut off the inverter entirely to save the batteries, which can by damaged if allowed to discharge too far. Among other things, no power means no electric light or refrigeration and no water (which requires power to pump it from the cistern and pressurize it). Needless to say, a strong reminder of the conveniences we often take for granted even here.
Thankfully, Ziggy and April have ordered another load of beeswax taper candles to remedy the light situation. Sara and I bought and enjoyed the honeyed aroma of some of their first round back in the fall, and this time, as Community Building supplies orderer, I have requisitioned 50 to replenish the supply for that building.
In some ways, life continued this week as it normally does here, with committee meetings, seed orders, firewood gathering, and all our other typical winter activities. But walking to and fro after dark was a startling experience: I knew there were dozens of people within a minute's walk around the village, yet for all the light I could see, I might have been walking quite alone through a ghost town.
I've been filling in for Mary Beth (who sent word through Dan to our meeting today that it was 95 degrees in Ecuador where she is) on Dancing Rabbit email, and handling an increasing volume of people interested in our visitor program and our members' various work exchange position offerings, both of which start up in April. Mid-week, a number of us seeking work exchangers for the coming season met again to try to hammer out a good and equitable process for receiving and sharing applications. We ended up charting a circuitous method that will hopefully get everything where it needs to go. Boy is it complicated to share complex decision-making in a group! And yet satisfying to see all of us working together to meet as many people's needs as possible.
Partly to counteract the sedative effects of too much cloudy weather, Danielle and Boone instigated a party Saturday night to chase the clouds away. Cob made a couple large bowls of kettle chips, several brewers shared their latest beer (fittingly, a nice black ale), and among other things we told ghost tales and other stories with mysterious themes for quite some time as though it was Hollerween. Later on, after a dancing interlude by a number of the kids, music took over with a variety of instrumentation. Judging by the sun today, we would seem to have succeeded in banishing the clouds at least briefly with our merry-making.
As though to cement the celebration, Thomas cut a two-foot hole in the ice in the old swimming pond, and after our Sunday business meeting, four (fool-)hardy souls, myself included, went out accompanied by twice as many spectators for a polar bear dip. Perversely, that was when the sun chose to disappear behind clouds again, but we could hardly stop the mission we'd set out on. It is always a bracing experience to drop through ice into frigid water. I sometimes think I do it just to say I did, but in the end I'm always glad I did. It is good to be alive and wake yourself up that way occasionally.
Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community in Rutledge, Missouri practicing ecological sustainability. Tours are over for the season, but will be offered again starting in April. For more information, please see our website at www.dancingrabbit.org or give us a call at (660) 883-5511.