Wilderness Word
by Jenna Pollard

June 27, 2018

Berry season has officially begun here at the SWC. Wild strawberries dot the roadsides, juneberries (also called saskatoons or serviceberries) are slowly darkening from a light pink to a deep purple, and our most famous forest forage, the blueberry, has just begun to fill our cupped hands as we walk from our tents to the lodge in the morning. A perfect addition to a steaming bowl of oatmeal! We still have thimbleberries, raspberries, blackberries, dewberries, gooseberries and currants to look forward to as berry season continues. I remember residents last year bringing pockets, hands and mason jars brimming with assorted berries to breakfast each morning. I can hardly wait for that time here!

Today was a day of teamwork as we tackled the completion of the first wall tent. We always have diverse projects going on simultaneously, but today brought a rare day of large group work with four to eight of us working together at a time on the tent. Some things needed to be fixed, others finished. We now have nearly three completed rooms with painted walls and stained white pine floors. All we need are screen doors, bunks and a porch to be ready for our next Summit Academy student group’s arrival in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday night brought with it another exciting town run; dirty laundry washed, groceries purchased and blueberry custard eaten. The farmer’s market is growing in Ely, and this is the first week we’ve had fresh greens and vegetables available for purchase. Our own garden has begun to produce substantial amounts of kale and chard, with radishes and broccoli a close second. We’ve had warm weather and regular rain, and our garden shows it. Snap peas, beans and lettuce heads are growing fast. Our journey to zero waste and self-sufficiency feels the most underway when we’re serving food grown from our own garden at meals. With the dedication of residents and staff (particularly Louis), this summer is proving to be a standard-setter as actively pursue our goals in food management. While checking out the chard and kale beds with Will this morning he said to me, “It hasn’t been like this since the seventies. We always grew our own food then; it was a priority. It’s a dream to see residents working so hard in the garden.”

June 29, 2018

The middle of this past week brought the most remarkably sunny skies we’ve experienced yet this summer. It was a surprise to wake up this morning to rumbling thunder and a sudden rush of rain falling in sideways sheets. We sat together on the porch of the Lodge watching the rain fall. All of us except Aurora, who used the rainfall as a free shower and grabbed the nearest bar of soap to take full advantage of the opportunity. The rain very slowly cleared, and indoor projects (like the cubby room we’re working on) made some headway.
Tina and Kelsey have become confident in their measuring, lay out and circular saw skills and as soon as the rain cleared they finished up the floor in the wall tent. It’s so beautiful! Al and Benjamin set out to complete screen doors for the tent and devise a way to secure the canvas to the wooden frame. This project is becoming more and more of a puzzle as we continue! Luckily, we’ll have a chance to do it all over again with the second tent, and will hopefully bypass many of the mistakes we made in the process of learning with this one.
I couldn’t believe how fast this week flew! Although we all looked completely beat at 5pm today when we sat down for grilled cheese sandwiches and curry (courtesy of Justin and Kelsey), I was able to rally the troops to play a game of volleyball. Rita Mae and Morgan returned from a week-long trip to Colorado and joined us, making it a seven-on-seven, unforgettable game. Swimming in Picketts and singing around the Hobo Village campfire wrap up another solid week of work on the homestead.
– JP

One Response to “Summer Wildlifer Log – Dispatch 05”

  1. Steve

    I’m speechless at your kind tribute so I will steal a thought from Albert Schweitzer: “Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.” Deepest thanks, Johnny Ray.

    And thank you Willow, Kelsey, Louie, Tina, Andrew, Trevor, Sophia, Justin, Aurora, Elaina, Katelyn, and Mabel. You are each amazing people and I applaud your efforts. Keep doing good work and learn all you can from the wise leaders you have in Will, Johnny Ray, Jenna, and Sugi. You all are in your own small way, already changing the world.

    My daughters are 21 and 23, I offer you some unsolicited advice I have given them:

    1- Choose your friends wisely. Let go of friends who bring you down, they may come around but maybe not, it’s ok either way and it can be wise to let go of childish things. Aristotle described friendship as the pre-eminent human institution. Do the hard work of making and keeping friendships with those who bring out the better angels of your nature. Instagram alone won’t cut it.
    2- Forgive freely, especially yourself. There are no straight lines in life and you are not so special that you too won’t make mistakes. Grow from them, forgive others, forgive yourself, and be a little bit better tomorrow.
    3- Unplug.

    In a tiny corner of Minnesota on Pickett’s Lake, the human spirit seems to be winning. How lucky I was to have stumbled upon such a beautiful beacon of light. Now get that cabin finished! Your friend, Steve Mahon

    Reply

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