And then I stopped taking notes in my journal for two days…The next two nights were stormy and cold and we went to bed SO tired that I didn’t even write, so I’ll have to piece it together as best I can.

Wednesday morning, I took a botany class.  LOVED it.  Joe, the instructor, showed us how to use a botany key.  He had a piece of a black currant bush and taught us how to use the diagnostic key to identify the plant.  It was like a treasure hunt flow chart.  Are the leaves simple or lobed?  Simple.  Are they toothed or smooth?  Smooth.  Large or small?  and so on, narrowing down the possibilities of what the plant could be.  I found it exhilarating, oddly.  I like to know what things are called and I squirrel away bits of knowledge like a magpie with shiny.  What was funny to me was how some of the other women (it was all chicks for some reason) just couldn’t DO it.  To me, it was very cut and dried.  There are either 3 lobes or not.  It’s purple or it isn’t.  But they were clearly uncomfortable with making these judgements.  “Well, it could be purple, but it’s a bit blue, isn’t it?”  BLUE IS NOT AN OPTION!  PURPLE OR NOT PURPLE!  It was like they couldn’t close the door on a possibility.  I imagined being trapped in a board meeting with these women.  Women who can’t just say yes or no for fear of alienating someone.  Women who make the meeting go on and on and on….  Luckily, I was all blissed out so it was an amusing observation–“I think some of us are must more comfortable being judgemental!”–rather than a cause of rising blood pressure.  Eventually the Includers wandered away, but I stayed, trying to key out any plant I came across.  I have no idea how I’m going to scratch THAT itch in regular life.  Become a botanist groupie?  The important point here is that I was able to Win at Plants.

botany class.  Im in the stripey head thing

botany class. I'm in the stripey head thing

Thursday, on the other hand, I tried my hand (har) at Thai Massage.  I don’t especially enjoy a massage, but this sort looked to be lots of assisted yoga stretching and Steve had said, “Hey why don’t you take that?”  I was feeling awful that he was so miserable and thought it might get him something nice out of all this.  Apparently I had forgotten about how, when I was taking yoga, if I showed up and found that it was a partner class, I’d just leave.  When the instructor demonstrated, it looked easy enough and it looked like it would feel really good.  Then we partnered up.  Mark, the bow-making instructor, had the misfortune of ending up with me.  I was suddenly utterly unable to make my body do what I wanted it to, couldn’t duplicate the moves at ALL.  Frustration mounted.  About that time, Emily rounded the corner, realized what she was seeing, and burst out laughing.  She recovered enough to get her camera:

Shortly afterwards, a woman wandered up and wanted to join in.   I HAPPILY gave her my spot.  “I think I could serve better somewhere else.”  This was not a Win.

Wednesday night, a storm kicked up.  Word went around camp that “severe weather” was on the way from the north.  Our tents faced the north, the lake, so I turned them all around with a bit of help.  Then I panicked that I’d screwed up the footprint and that when the torrential rains came we’d all get soaked.  I packed an emergency bag, thinking that when Steve came to visit, maybe we’d go back into town with him.  He arrived, said he’d see if the B&B had an extra room.  Meanwhile, I polled the kids.  Julianna wanted to stay.  Ben and Lily wanted to go, but mostly it seemed to be to spend more time with Steve and to see the hotel.  I was of two minds.  On the one hand–being wet when you’re trying to sleep stinks.  On the other–adventure!  In the end, we decided to stick it out.  We headed to the roundhouse for square dancing (oh, how I love square dancing.  Rules!)  and went to sleep with the wind shaking the tents back and forth.

As it happened, there was little but wind.  A pittering rain, but nothing serious.  It did signal a weather change, though, and Thursday and half of Friday were wet and cold.

Wednesday photos:

impromptu game of some sort by the roundhouse.  Kids just coming together and playing.  Unaided.  Just like theyre supposed to.

impromptu game of some sort by the roundhouse. Kids just coming together and playing. Unaided. Just like they're supposed to.

I think that birchbark canoe was made in a previous year at the Gathering

I think that birchbark canoe was made in a previous year at the Gathering

Michael took out the canoe into the choppy pre-storm water

Michael took out the canoe into the choppy pre-storm water

While Michael was out at sea, Lily fell and hit her head on the concrete floor of the roundhouse.  Michael is an ER nurse at a children’s hospital, so we’d assure her that he’d be sure she was okay.  When she found that he was out in the canoe, she wailed “He’s never here when you NEED him!”  The Grace lost her mind worrying about him out in the stormy weather.  so we had both of them wailing and gnashing their teeth.  Emily and I practiced our simultaneous soothing tones and rolling eyes.  When Michael came back in, Lily said, “I don’t want him to look at my head, he’s CRAZY!”  But all was fine on all fronts and Grace and Lily played in those waves

the square dance musicians

the square dance musicians

I’m so glad I went to the square dancing.  The wind was howling outside, but we were snug and warm…okay, packed in and steaming.  It was ripe in there.  But one of the women knew how to call square dances and led us through a few.  I love it.  I do so love to move to the music, but I am deeply self-conscious and not a gifted dancer.  I still found myself apologizing to others dancers for trodding on their feet and for my inability to spin more than once w/o getting woozy, but of course no one cared and I should have just kept my mouth shut.  More opportunities, that’s what I need.  Of course, I need everyone else to be new to it too.  Can’t Lose at Dancing.

Thursday photos:

Lily, hair now French Braid Dirty, enjoys some hot cocoa

Lily, hair now French Braid Dirty, enjoys some hot cocoa

wool felting class

wool felting class

net making

net making

mud oven another class made.  The pottery was fired in here!

mud oven another class made. The pottery was fired in here!

impromptu cordage making.  I made about a gazillion bracelets out of basswood after I learned this.  Theres Emily!

impromptu cordage making. I made about a gazillion bracelets out of basswood after I learned this. There's Emily!

Ben has gone feral

Ben has gone feral

Lily with the beeswax candles she dipped

Lily with the beeswax candles she dipped

Thursday night, we went to the roundhouse to listen to Kenny Salwey tell stories about his life on the Mississippi.  He has written several books and had some some about him by the BBC.  He was a fantastic story teller.  His speech is slow and measured and he knows how to spin out a yarn.   I wish his books were on audio so I could hear him tell them all.

I went to bed that night reflecting that it is hard to choose to go out in the rain and work if you have another choice.  But if you don’t, really, you just deal.  It was surprising how the cold drizzle just wasn’t a big deal.  We just got to that place where it was the way it was and that was that.  Again, nice to be able to choose this.  Grateful to not have to sleep outside in the rain every day.  You may have noticed from the photos that there aren’t any black faces in there.  This is what Emily’s co-worker described as “crazy white people shit.”  You know you’re doing okay when you can choose to take a primitive vacation.

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