Winter is Here

About two weeks ago, I came up to Wisconsin from Missouri after being gone for a month. A friend from Teaching Drum picked me up in Milwaukee, and we spent the day there before heading further north.

at Lake Michigan, in MilwaukeeThe temperature was -5 once we got up to Teaching Drum, and when I stepped out of the car, I felt the hairs in my nose freeze. It was the night of a dead moon. I felt ready for a good night's rest. I made my way down the familiar, dark and narrow path to the cabin where my bed lay. When I finally lay down, I slept lightly, because I was cold. I found more blankets, and then slept well through the rest of the night. When I awoke in the morning, it was -11.

The next day I started to settle in. I put on my thick wool pants. I rendered bear fat and cleaned and cooked fish for dinner. I felt happy and at home again.

I missed bear fat cracklins!Sisco caught in NovemberThe temperature stayed sub zero within the first week I returned. I began learning about how to feel comfortable outdoors, by wearing layers of wool clothing, and staying physically active. Myself and about four men were having "work parties" every morning to split and stack wood. All the mens' beards became full of icicles after being outside for a few minutes, and the hair around my face froze too.

I've been staying comfortably warm, even though I was really afraid of winter here. Yes, I am cold sometimes, but I don't really mind it, and when the temperature went up into the 20's this week, I felt incredibly warm. I never thought I would appreciate 20 degrees so much.

Our hides wanted sign at the front entrance.The beauty of the snowy northwoods is hard to describe, and I would trade it over the mosquito summer any day. I spend the days working on the projects in the community, and "wolf running," doing push ups, and climbing trees. Wolf running is running through the woods, imitating the person's movements in front of you.

The view down from up in a red pine that I climbedYesterday a group of us went on a hike for a couple hours, and we wolf walked the whole way, including across a lake. Wolf walking is simply walking in another's footsteps in the snow. We were all in a line, sometimes losing balance, and laughing to catch our feet in the exact same footprints as the person in front of us, climbing up and down hills, and identifying animal tracks along the way.

Winter is just beginning. It will get colder. I think I'll enjoy it as long as I remember to stay active and spend plenty of time outdoors.

More people have come to stay for the winter, so we're pretty full right now. I'm happy there are more people here. There are definitely stressful relationship dynamics, but I feel confident that we will work through it, because we have shown to in the past. I think it's important that we continue to have our healing circles, and practice truth speaking and flagging to give us more clarity about ourselves, and help us in our healing.

Flagging is used as a tool to help give someone more awareness about an unhealthy pattern they have. I just recently started flagging other people. I was afraid to flag others for a couple months. I didn't want to be blamed for someone's emotional reaction to being flagged, but then I realized how unhelpful and enabling that is. I would want someone to flag me even if I reacted to it, and blamed the other person, because once I calm down after being flagged, and look at the flag, I am usually really grateful for it.

Teaching Drum is not always an easy place to be. Sometimes I get super caught up in self judgement, and it reflects in all my relationships. I think of places I want to run away to, in which I don't have so many mirrors looking back at me. But the reality is, I can't hide anywhere for very long.

The saying "Wherever you go, there you are" resonates with me a lot, these days. I'm gonna have to face my fears and self judgement wherever I am. I might as well do it here, while I am young, and have supportive, encouraging people around me who all want the same for themselves too.