January 20th, 2017
“When I was a teenage boy in western Maine, I read the books of Jack London, books about a world of rugged people and hardy animals at home in the frozen woods of the north. Dreaming of that world, I ventured out into the forest on snowshoes, and if it was in the middle of a storm, all the better. Deep in the forest I would dig a shallow pit in the snow and using the papery bark peeled from a nearby birch tree and dead twigs broken from a red spruce, I’d start a crackling fire. The splendor of sparks shooting up into the dark sky, the acrid smoke rising through the falling snowflakes, and hare or porcupine meat roasting on a stick over the flames, all enhanced the winter romance. Warming myself, I would think of London’s ‘To Build a Fire’, a story about how in the northern wilderness, heat meant life. To one unfortunate newcomer in the frozen Yukon in that story, the key to life was keeping dry and having a match, but because of careless mistakes, he got his feet wet and his fire and life were extinguished.
The trouble with that newcomer, London wrote, was that ‘he was without imagination. He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things. Not in the significances. Fifty degrees below zero meant eighty-odd degrees of frost- it was to him just precisely fifty degrees below zero. That there should be anything more to it than that was a thought that never entered his head.’ He new about the abstract thing, frost, and the numbers. But he did not yet know what they meant.” -from Winter World by Bernd Heinrich
It is time again for that great dance of community and spirit, nature and music; fire of life in bleak midwinter. We hope you will be with us for the 12th annual Winter Gathering! Your presence is the most precious gift you can share. We need you. Yes you. And you need us. (“We are here, and so are you”) If you have never been before or if you have been to all eleven or anywhere in-between you are desired. What with the lions, tigers, and even wolverines failing to live up to our highest expectations we are going to have to take matters into our own hands. With the hibernating antlions of the great lakes dunes, the eastern tiger swallowtails in their cocoons, and the beavers habitat restoration crew we will remember what it is to sing, sing, sing again too! Amidst all this romantic twirling about like it’s a Terence Malick film we also have a set schedule for the various planned activities that we will try to keep posted around the space throughout the weekend and ideally stick to for the most part. Even though we resist the tyranny of time.
All of us raised to be civilized are still newcomers to our home, earth’s beloved community of all living creatures. Finding this community can sometimes feel like grasping for the wind. The winter gathering is a space to start again by finding each other. In the margins of ancient glacial systems, high on the drumlins, send your smoke signals for many are seeking. Eating, playing, singing, making, discussing, face to face, we can expand our imaginations. The rivers and lakes of Charlevoix County can teach us what life means. We can grow to be one of the old-timers when we are old; at home with the earth. Meeting up for the dozenth gathering is not for the sake of recreating the past, or a sentimental reconnecting to feelings and friends we once had, or to just keep a tradition. We need things like this now more than ever. “It is a new year, I gotta new change of gear, i swear…” We still have so many questions about our lives, and we live in a time with all the world at stake. And we have learned a lot over the year and have experiences and skills to share. And it is fun to mature with the assistance of good parties.
Sometimes we laugh for hours straight over nothing, sometimes we cry at so much beauty. Sometimes we fall in love, sometimes we drink and fight (I am not promoting this one). Sometimes we forgive and forget, sometimes we go our separate ways. Sometimes we dunk our head in the river, sometimes we leave a lock of hair for the birds to build their nest. We reach beyond mediation, hoping for direct immersion in wild nature. And we are trying to let winter shape us like the stones which rest safely on the ground (or roll), and we pray winter give us dreams of heaven on earth, of anarchy (to be ungovernable we need community and skills for living on the land. This is another chance to help one-another get there.) Standing rock dreams. Peregrine falcon on the city tower dreams. Acorn biscuit with cattail pollen gravy dreams. Apocalyptic fervor. From the subnivian zone to the frozen clouds. From Hoods Up in Jackson, to the wood-stoves of the collapse house, to the sugar bush of wagbo, to the ends of the earth (but not to Mars) we pray for the common good.
May we create meaning in the middle of the chaos and the structure. May we sense the comforting shock of cold, snow, wind, and rugged north woods (Despite another hottest year on record there are still a few remnant patches of winter hanging around. Get it while you can!). May we enter fully into this darkness and edify one another with prophecies of spring. May we not give up meeting together. May we give each other the benefit of the doubt. May we not be strangers to ourselves or to this world. May we renew our awareness of the spirit-who-moves-through-all-things. May we restore the land as the land restores us. May we exorcise the demon of politics from our midst. And may the children grow wild according to their nature.
Keep your lamps trimmed and burning, as we tear the whole thing down. Alive, Alive, Alive!
where: East Jordan, Michigan at the Martha Wagbo Farm & Education Center https://www.facebook.com/marthawagbofarm/
when: January 27-29
NO DOGS and NO SHOES ON INSIDE
other than that do whatever you want (with love)
We have planned for:
talks/discussions on foraging and standing rock resistance
and more, always more
Faith, Hope, Love,
from the editor in the Maple Mansion