Weekly Update 10-29-09

Posted October 29th, 2009

This has been an amazingly productive week here in the Forest. We had a group of 12 work exchangers from Eckerd College (in St. Petersburg, Florida) here for three nights, as well as a family of three (Stan, Sam and Johnathan) on work exchange for several days and a few other work exchangers for one or two nights each. So much has been accomplished.

The group from Eckerd College spent their first day moving all the art supplies out of the Craft Room and into the top floor of the bunkhouse (once called the Corral). No longer are artists forced to hunt through a tiny room packed with art supplies and other random objects from around the Hostel and then find another space to actually make their art. Instead they have the newly-finished Collaboratorium, a huge space with all the same arts and craft supplies, plus room to move around, tables and benches to work on, a couch to relax on and even two bunk beds to sleep in. The space has truly been transformed into something beautiful and functional. So come see the Collaboratorium and give the Forest some of your amazing art lovin’!

Marie, another work exchanger, has moved the old library books out of the Hidey Hole and into the now-empty craft room. Hopefully the books will suffer less moisture damage there until the new dome is finished later this year and we are finally able to open the new library and teaching space.

Stan and Johnathan replaced many rotting boards on our boardwalks and also built a wall of palm fronds at the Angel Shower for some added privacy. You can still enjoy a beautiful view of the Forest, but no one can enjoy the beautiful view of you. Sam melted down dozens of old candles from all around the Hostel and poured about 30 fresh ones with the wax. One of the Eckerd College students patched all the tears in the screen of the Screen Porch. Joe (who’s on a bike trip from Tampa, Florida to Richmond, Virginia) replaced the bamboo and palm-frond roof on the Church Pooper … The list of things accomplished around here in the last week could go one for pages, so I’ll just stop for now. Now that the cold spell has passed us by, the under-canopy temperature has returned to it’s standard 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The days of long underwear, wool hats and electric blankets are over (at least for now), and we’re back to no shirt, no shoes, no problem.

Ko’Alani has moved on (without saying goodbye, which is her way) and Luke has joined us for a while. Carlyn is still rockin’ it out in the garden, and Clyde and Anton (both managers from years gone by) are here on work exchange as well. The Forest Family continues to flow and shift, and things around here just keep on keepin’ on. We hope to see you here soon so you can share your love with us and the Forest as well.

Until then, may your path be bright with Truth and Love.

May the Forest Be With You

The Hostel Staff

Weekly Update 10-22-09

Posted October 22nd, 2009

Winter has come early to the Southland, and the Forest is no exception. Friday afternoon was the usual temperature of 80 degrees, and Friday night dipped below 50. I know that’s not really all that cold, but when it’s been 80 degrees under the canopy for six months, 50 is very brisk. Especially because we have only screens on the windows and no heat, which means that when it’s 50 degrees outside, it’s 50 degrees in your bed. Add to that the constant humidity that manages to make even the thickest pile of blankets slightly damp and you have a recipe for very, very cold nights. The staff have all been experimenting with our various methods of keeping warm: electric blankets (which some are opposed to on principle, Tom included if memory serves correctly) layering and wool socks, hot water bottles, cuddling, giant bottles of hot tea under the covers… We’ve all managed to stay warm enough to sleep. The hut I’m sleeping in (Maple Cide-r) is blessed with a lofted bed, so I was able to move my mattress under the bed, block off the screen window with a sleeping bag, and block off the other side of the bed with a couple of blankets. So now I have a happy nest of blankets, pillows and warmth to get me through the chilly months to come. But I think when the truly cold months of December, January and February arrive, I’ll be huddled up in the common room by the cast iron furnace with everyone else.

Sunday was Trey’s birthday, so much of his family (biological and forest) came here to honor and celebrate him on Saturday. It was really wonderful seeing so much family here at the same time. And Trey’s sister blessed us with some things that belonged to Trey and their father. So we have a new flour sifter, a beautiful handmade chess board and many other exciting items.

Poppy has moved on in his travels, and Ko’Alani continues to bless us with her presence, at least until tomorrow. Carlyn is staying with us for at least a few days. The forest family continues to move and shift as we fill in the winter staff. We currently only have four official staff members, but between the amazingly helpful guests and incredible work exchangers, so much is being accomplished. The Forest does always attract the right people at the right time so that she is always beautifully cared for. We hope to see you here soon. Until then, may your path be bright with Truth and Love.

May the Forest Be With You

The Hostel Staff

Weekly Update 10-12-09

Posted October 12th, 2009

Oh, the weekly update. So much happens here every day, and yet it seems there is so little to say each week. Thursday evening Heather and Chuck returned from a 10-day excursion to a festival called Alchemy, Georgia’s local version of Burning Man. We got back just in time for the yoga weekend that started on Friday. Over the weekend we were blessed with ongoing yoga classes, two Hostel meals a day, and lots of amazing guests. As their karma yoga (devotional service) project, the guests raked and cleaned our beautiful labyrinth. The labyrinth is a huge undertaking for one or two people, but about a dozen yoga weekenders gave it lots of love and lit the whole thing with luminaries, followed by a labyrinth-walking meditation after dinner. It was really beautiful to see the labyrinth get some much-deserved love and attention.

The chickens have begun a turf war over the still-drying cob kitchen. A couple of hens have been laying their eggs in the cob oven for weeks now, but yesterday we discovered a bona-fide chicken nest. In a low spot of the counter, a hen has scratched the cob (made of clay and straw) until it turned into dirt and straw, then bedded down and made herself at home. What drew our attention to that part of the kitchen in the first place was Dank Jr. (the top cock) standing on a built-in cutting board and crowing. Being top cock, he was surrounded by several of the biggest hens, including the one who had made a nest in the cob. So for the rest of the afternoon, we would chase the hens and Dank Jr. away from the kitchen and they would return to roost a few minutes later. We’ll see how this turf war progresses as we get closer to the time we expect to be using the new kitchen as the full-time dinner kitchen.

What I’m about to talk about actually happened in late September, but it was never mentioned in the weekly update, so I’d like to now. Our hen population had been shrinking due to predators and old age, and more and more hens kept figuring out they were actually roosters! With only about 20 hens and five roosters, the competition for top cock was fierce and unwelcome. So the decision was made to eliminate two of the roosters. Frank (aka Francois aka Falcor) was top cock long ago, and is now a harmless loner in the Forest, so he was safe. Fritz is too small to bother anyone, so he was safe as well. Dank Jr. is top cock, and it’s just not right to get rid of the top cock. It’s very confusing for the chickens’ social order. Dank was once top cock, and a fine one. And a guest offered to take Dank off our hands to be top cock for the hens he intends to raise. Which left us with Golden Boy, a beautiful rooster who was too rough with the hens. His favorite hens were missing most of their back feather and had gouges underneath their wings. Rather than pawn off such an abusive rooster on someone else’s hens, the staff all agreed we would rather eat him. Late one night (the night before Autumnal Equinox) Whitney caught him as he slept in his new roost in the kitchen window and put him in a wooden crate. On the Equinox itself, we took Golden Boy out by the lake. With much respect and plenty of ceremony, Poppy killed Golden Boy quickly and honorably. Whitney and Heather plucked him and Heather cleaned, de-boned and cooked him. His meat was delicious, and his feathers are beautiful. I’ve used several of his feathers in a pair of earrings; Heather and I are making a headdress out of his longest tail-feather for the Lord or Lady of Cataan to wear; and I’m sure his other feathers will be put to good use as well. I’m glad I had the opportunity to watch an animal die: I will think of it every time I see chicken in the store or on someone’s plate. And each time I choose to eat meat in the future, I will be reminded that, even if I didn’t have to watch it, an animal died somewhere to make that meat. And they almost certainly died with far less honor and respect than Golden Boy.

May your path be bright with Truth and Love and . . .

May the Forest Be With You

The Hostel Staff