In the Haven of Earthly Delights

I leave Earthaven (for Asheville, then Greenville, then Beacon) tomorrow morning. This time, I’ve been here two weeks. In those two weeks, I’ve taken a class in natural building (involving cob, clay wattle, base plaster, finish plaster, and earthen paint). I’ve explored the Medicine Wheel jungle garden (while harvesting cherry tomatoes, which lead you from spot to spot, like blazes on a bright trail, until you’ve roamed every spur). I’ve eaten weed salad (mint, wood sorrel, lemon balm, basil) for breakfast almost every day. Yesterday I braved the Mealmaster (MW’s grouchy old wood-powered cooking stove) for the first time in two months – yes, I created a few discs of charcoal, but overall my roasted sweet potatoes (and toasted sunflower seeds) turned out okay (as did my three salads, one of which comprised grated beet, ugly apple, and tromboncino squash, seasoned with onion, garlic, and homemade mayonnaise). In the past, when I’ve cooked, I’ve usually been so focused on planning and making the meal that I’ve neglected to prepare anything for the pre-dinner hippie-joy hand-holding circle – but this time was different! We sang the refrain and one verse (the only one I’ve written) of “This Food Is Your Food,” before digging in.

This afternoon I will return to the clay wattle project started during natural building class – adding wall-fill to the pooper out back of Medicine Wheel, so those who poop can be shielded from both elements and prying eyes by something more substantial (and elegant) than a sheet. Two days ago I mixed a big tub of heavy clay slip (clay and water); yesterday I mixed it again; today I’ll mix it a third time, then dip sheaves of straw in it and wrap said sheaves around bamboo poles, to form a solid mass. For this work, I wear a special outfit – one of my very old, threadbare, hemp-cotton Texture Clothing dresses, once chocolate brown, now faded to the color of the clay slip when it covers my skin.

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