How It Goes

05-28-2015 | Lindsay

Ana, age 19 months, looked up at me laughing with bright pink lips, red juice dribbling down her soft chin. She and Kate had just come from the garden, where the first strawberries are ripe. We have new peeps in the chicken yard, one soft yellow and the other dusky black, inquisitively peering out under protective wings. On Sunday, Katie and Keith called all to Homestead for supper with visiting friends Jon and Annie. Though Katie had made roast chicken, as always, folks showed up with dishes to share from whatever they had in the pantry and had a yen to prepare: egg salad, tomato pie, lettuces from the garden, cinnamon cake. After dinner we took a walk: over Deer Spring Creek and to the Retreat House, then up to Hunters Field. There we admired the inviting green circle at the west end, where Scot had mowed in preparation for the upcoming women's retreat that will include Sacred Circle Dance. The clearing's energy was irresistible: suddenly we all were clapping, whooping, singing while Wren, Emma, Luke, Josh, Kate and even Billy hopped, skipped, and twirled.

Several nights ago, Scot sent a text to all calling our attention to the perfect crescent moon in the western sky, with Venus and Jupiter near. The moon and planets hung sweetly while fireflies twinkled below in the dark woods.

On Wednesday, the Audubon society held a bird walk here. On a two hour walk, they saw, heard, and identified 42 species of birds including a scarlet tanager, redheaded woodpecker, a vireo, phoebe, cedar waxwing, yellow billed cuckoo, and a red shouldered hawk.

On Memorial Day we had a more or less spontaneous barbeque at Pinestone, where once again, roast potatoes, corn, sausages, garden salad and more materialized; as did a croquet set. A rollicking croquet match was played as the sun lowered ruby, magenta and gold in the western sky and the breeze blew sweet caresses over the lawn.

There are undeniable difficulties living at Rolling Ridge, especially for young families making ends meet; also for the older folks with less youthful energy and the tugs of long-standing commitments to career and to children and grandchildren. We are really only a hairbreadth removed from the chilly spring and the bitter, frozen winter. There is the sometimes tedious work of maintaining buildings, hosting retreats, finding, cutting, chopping, stacking wood for the winter; planting, tending, harvesting the garden produce, mowing, answering phone and email inquiries ... all the while holding jobs and maintaining family life. The isolation is wearisome—and sometimes frightening. We are at least 30 minutes from anywhere.

We know that it is a fragile thing we are trying to pull off here, making a sustainable life for families; holding a hospitable place for weary city dwellers to re-connect with nature and soul; trying to live in reciprocity with the natural world, the other than human ones whose energy and lives sustain our own; building relationship with the wider Rolling Ridge community, with partner groups, folks on personal retreat, small groups and families who visit us, and new friends in the area of Charles Town.

Yet sometimes, in fact often, we are made aware that something is cradling our flagging and fallible selves, and through us, this place. Call it Grace, or Love, or Great Mother, or any name you choose. It is in strawberry juice, and crescent moons; in laughter, and scarlet tanagers, in wild dances and lettuce from the garden and apricot sunsets.

After the barbeque grill cooled and the croquet mallets were placed in their holder, all went to their respective homes, some to begin bedtime routines for the little ones. The air had cooled, the moon was a thick cream crescent, the night insects were just beginning their songs. I walked with Scot to Woodhaven to pick up eggs he had gathered earlier. On my way home, I could hear from Deer Spring the crying and wailing of little girls too wound up and overtired to settle down for bed. Thirty minutes or so later, I saw Josh patiently strolling with Ana around and around our dirt lanes, in the classic journey of parent and sleep-resistant child.

And that's about how it goes.