When you step outside, do feel that rising quality in the air? Sort of intoxicating, bubbling up, reaching high? The forces of spring are urging us all upward and outward- we have completed the dying away of the former season, and are ready for new birth. It is the time for spring cleansing- inside our bodies and out. Time to fortify ourselves for a new cycle of growth and renewal.
Nature’s law of contraction and expansion provides me with endless comfort. When the cares and worries of life close in, when circumstances are difficult and I feel like curling up in a little ball and hiding- I know it is just a part of the continuum of this cosmic law. Instead of avoiding it, fighting it, or losing my cool, I visualize myself closing up- releasing into the smallness, hardness, darkness of the moment, like a turtle retreating into his shell, like a blossom closing up tight for a night. Faith in the expansion principle- that day will come, that the sunlight of God’s work in my life will coax me back out of my night, allows me to relax into those hard places and not grow bitter, or brittle, of spirit.
The past month has been a series of challenges with the co-op, as one or more other Waldorf retailers have spoken to manufacturers we work with and urged them not to sell to our group. It would “degrade their brand”. Part of me, the proud part I suppose, wants to just wash my hands of companies who would allow this bourgeois prejudice to color them- but I have made a committment to the members of this co-op, and so I am swallowing that lump in my throat and coming to the table with a collaborative spirit! As a co-op, we may appear threatening if one looks only at the matter of price. But with our membership fee and 2-4 week delay, only a friendly group of people who are very committed to Waldorf education have joined. We are a very small “slice of the pie”; and judging by the many comments I receive from extremely appreciative members who claim they would not be able to make the purchases they are making without this service, we are a necessary piece of the Waldorf retailer’s puzzle, expanding the Waldorf marketplace. We will never grow so large as to overshadow the great people who have pioneered and built the Waldorf marketplace – our group of three homeschooling mamas are not sure what “full capacity” will be, but will probably limit the co-op to the first 75-100 members. Our families’ needs, of course, must come first.
That said, the experiences I’ve gone through lately have given me some clarity for successfully guiding the co-op forward. Our future lies in our own innovation, and in this vein, I have begun a new venture!
My homesteading neighbor, Joyce, brought me to Menno Herschberger’s Deer Mountain Cabinetry workshop, and she had carefully picked out a very special place. The workshop is large, immaculate, and has a special feeling to it- peaceful, thoughtful, dedicated. Every detail was attended to; and the workmanship of the sample pieces was superb.
Menno is a slim, quiet Amish man with eyes that shine when he is excited. He has a soft, firm voice and asks knowing questions (I mean, he knows exactly what to ask!). When I showed him pictures of toys I had in mind to be made, I knew right away he was the man for the job when he said he’d prefer to create all-wood construction (no metal fasteners, but handmade wooden ones) whenever possible because “it is very unique”, and he breathed a sigh of relief when I explained I didn’t want him to copy anyone else’s work, but to simply use it as inspiration for his own ideas and creative process. Menno is not just looking to work, he is looking to create.
Our first prototypes will be ready within the next few months, and Menno has agreed to let us take pictures of his workshop soon- so stay tuned! The Cedar Ring Circle toy brand is going to directly impact my neighborhood economy (Menno lives about ten minutes from my house), use locally sourced wood, and the entire process invites input and ideas from our whole co-op community!
While visiting the Amish community, we also stumbled upon a great local treasure- Jonas Schrock. He makes a line of traditional folk art foldable baskets. Closed, they serve as a trivet for hot plates. Pull up the handle and they expand into beautifully crafted wooden baskets. They are made of local red oak and come in over twenty different styles.
Some of my favorites are the snail-
(Here it is at my house, holding our modelling beeswax- good for Mother’s Day presents, too, I think!)
And this nut tray, including a nutcracker attached in the center! I’ve decided they’ll make great wedding gifts for this summer’s round of lovebirds!
Jonas also makes cows, chickens, maple leaves, bread baskets, four leaf clovers, cat-and-mouse, ducks, and many other shapes. They are labor intensive, but he loves making them. Here is a rare peek into his Amish workshop:
The finished baskets are stored on the shelves, and the hanging ones are brand new and drying.
Jonas also weaves rugs, although he admits he has been so carried away with his baskets, his loom has not been touched for a year.
Many of his patterns hang on the walls of his workshop.
Meanwhile, at my house, we are still enjoying walks in the woods…
One of my favorite places is the Corridor of Trees in the Enchanted Dragon Woods. It is less than a mile down the road, and in addition to providing us with an endless supply of pine cones, my children find new signs each day of the Dragon’s goings-on. From fallen trees that his fiery breath has knocked down, to the special places he sleeps or eats, we know he’s there!
Truly enchanted, isn’t it, the way the light bends around the trees here?
We found our first spring blossoms today (aside from the forsythia boughs we brought in to”force”, or blossom early, on our nature table)…
I’m not sure what these are, does anyone know? Not dandelions, because there are no greens to be seen!
And my favorite- crocuses! They seem to be growing wildly on their own in a random place of my backyard. Each year there are more!
Cedar Ring Papa was at a natural products trade show this weekend, and impatient as I am for some fresh greens, I threw up a makeshift hoophouse until he has time to build a more permanent one. Not a work of art- but cheap, easy enough for a woman with a baby on her back to make- and I’m so excited to plant our seeds today!
It consists of a 4 x 4 wooden frame (in the spirit of Square Foot Gardening), three PVC pipes stuck into the ground in a row to make the “hoop”, and some plastic sheeting from the hardware store. Rocks hold it down and provide for easy access when I want to uncover it (to let some rain in- I don’t think there is any substitute for the pitter patter of raindrops massaging the soil with their moisture- our human methods of watering do not seem to accomplish the same marvellous results). The boys loved carrying the rocks over!
A side view.
An inside view- quite roomy! I will be starting with lettuces, kale, spinach, parsley, cress, mache, and radishes.
Off to the garden!