and I travel on

I took a PAL (personal affairs leave) from Twin Oaks about ten days ago. A PAL can be granted to a Twin Oaks member who is not in the money or labor hole, and has lived at Twin Oaks for at least a year. A person taking a PAL can be gone from Twin Oaks for up to a year and return within that time and still become a member of the community. I don't receive money from the community while I am gone. I'm really not a member, but I can come back, pretty much anytime. Although, I might have to wait until a room opens up. It's a pretty neat thing that I decided to take advantage of.

I felt very content at Twin Oaks after being there almost two years, but I also felt a desire to explore some more communities, and gain some more primitive skills.

Twin Oaks is a community of about 100 people. Sometimes I think of it as more of a village than a community. I've yearned to be in a close knit family, or small group of people who work together and support each other to grow and learn. It seems like I would need a smaller community for that. I also want to be in a community that focuses on emotional healing. There are so many people at Twin Oaks, going in all different directions. There isn't as much community as I want there. There isn't a main goal or purpose of the place. I think this is true just because it's so big. I think it could be possible for me to create that there, but I am not sure. That is part of what led me to take some time off to find out what I really want.
There are some people in Virginia who I really, really miss already..

My first stop has been at East Wind Community, and that is where I am right now. I lived at East Wind for six months before I moved to Twin Oaks. It was a 16 hour drive. I rode with a group of Twin Oakers doing labor exchange. The Twin Oakers left to go back this morning, and I felt sad, like I was experiencing another separation from Twin Oaks, my home. East Wind is a home, also. It's nice to have a lot of homes. It's strange to feel like a wanderer or traveler after being settled almost two years.

Last week we arrived at East Wind after driving through the winding roads of the Ozark hills of southern Missouri. We came upon a large bonfire of people singing and player guitar. I felt so happy to see my old friends again. People were visiting from communities throughout the country; from Emma Goldman in Seattle, from Sandhill in Northern Missouri, Acorn in Virginia, and now us from Twin Oaks in Virginia. It was a community gathering. We sang along as people passed the guitar playing Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and Neutral Milk Hotel until late into the night. The temperature dipped down to 30 degrees.  I rolled out my sleeping bag in the dairy barn below two blankets; my head covered with a hat. I could see my breath in the night. It was cold, and I didn't sleep long. I woke up at Sunrise to the chickens crowing and cows mooing in the pasture. I felt exhausted, but wired, full of excited energy for this new, but also old place.

the lower garden and dairy barn at East Wind. August 2012? I have spent a lot of the time here gardening. I feel so much more confident in the garden now, and I have enjoyed being in a different garden learning different techniques I have also helped milk goats, cook meals, and hike through the woods. East Wind sits on 1200 acres, including a lake and a cave. I have learned some new Wildflowers, and have had long talks crying and laughing while weeding chamomile.

Some of the perks of East Wind to me include: No flushing toilets, new learning opportunities, beautiful land, a relaxed work atmosphere, and many other things. I've done all my peeing outside, and pooping in composting toilets. I really appreciate that East Wind doesn't have flushing toilets. I am sad there are flushing toilets at Twin Oaks. I was strange to pee into water when I went into town yesterday.

There are a good number of people here who hunt deer, turkey, and squirrels. Some use bow and arrows and some use rifles. It is on the list of skills I want to gain while on this journey. I am leaving here in two days, but I hope to return before I go back to Twin Oaks, and possibly do some hunting.

I notice that I garden faster than quite a few people here, and I realized it's something I picked up working at Twin Oaks. There is a fast paced work ethic at Twin Oaks, even in the garden. I think it's because there is often this feeling like we are behind, or we will be behind if we don't work faster. Twin Oaks's businesses (tofu, hammocks, seeds, seed racks, indexing) don't make as much money as East Wind's businesses (mainly nut butter, but also sandals). Twin Oakers work hard so we can grow the food we need or buy the things we need. I suppose everyone's definition of need is different. This also isn't to say that East Winders don't work hard. Although, the labor quota is lower at East Wind, they make more money, and I have noticed people working at a slower pace than Twin Oaks.

me working in the Twin Oaks Seeds Garden-July 2011?
There was a dance party last night for the Twin Oakers who were leaving. It was full of dub step and hip hop, laughing, and dancing. It was really fun. I have to say that it was one of the most fun dancing I have done in a long time. I hugged them goodbye and shared appreciations.
My next step is visiting my mom for a week, and then I will head out to the Possibility Alliance in northern Missouri. It is off the grid-so no electricity for internet to update the blog until I leave there.

There is something empowering, exciting and fun, but also sad and a bit lonely about traveling alone. I go back and forth between these feelings. Aside from the feelings, I know that this is best for me and a learning and growing opportunity.