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Strawbale Workshop: Day Two

by Tara

At supper this evening, as I forced myself to sit down and actually eat some of the delicious chili and cornbread Becky and I made (instead of hovering and letting my mind race ahead to the forthcoming dishwashing extravaganza and the next meal to prepare), Josh asked me how my day was. And as I thought about my response, I smiled a big, contented smile, because today was pretty much my ideal day:

Breakfast (berry-and-nut baked oatmeal, plus the usual spread of yogurt and toast and toppings) was met with accolades. Anyone who knows me knows that praise for food I've made is pretty much my love language, so this was a fabulous way to start the morning. Then, once the workers headed down to the Grindbygg for the day, I happily cleared breakfast dishes and drove over to Charlie and Becky's house to prepare lunch.

While Charlie went grocery shopping for the next round of ingredients (bless that man!), Becky and I spent a cheerful and productive morning making plattersful of spring rolls. We chatted and listened to music as we stuffed, filling rice paper wrappers with leftover pork and tofu, herbs galore, rice noodles, carrots and cukes and scallions. And as we worked, I felt so grateful to Becky, and to all the folks up at the worksite.

` Tara Making Spring Rolls Becky Making Spring Rolls Spring Rolls

For the first time in what felt like a very long time, I was not in the construction "trenches" but was instead doing what I do best in the company of a dear friend. And while the two of us were doing what we love in companionable conversation like two old-timey women shelling peas on a porch, shit was getting done. Like, really getting accomplished. When I came back to the homestead to serve lunch, I was dumbfounded and delighted by how much progress my new baling friends had made!

` Carol Tying a Bale TK & Ash Checking Chainsaw Chain Emily & Christa Ash Chainsawing Bale, with TK Carol & Mickie Rob (Spider Man?) Jess Dave Kicking Bale into Place Dale Maneuvering Bale into Place Jess & Dan being Silly Jess Tamping Bale Wall Emily Kicking Bale into Place

Lunch, involving our homemade spring rolls and peanut-hoisin sauce (my favorite food in the world), was a rousing success, too. Since Becky and I had prepared almost everything for supper ahead of time, I had a relatively easy afternoon of dishwashing to look forward to.

Balers Eating Lunch

Once everyone was back down at the Grindbygg, I cranked up the stereo, washed dishes, and made a pan of gluten-free/vegan corn bread (thanks for the recipe, mom!!) to serve with our chili supper. I even had time to run to town to mail out a couple of cookbooks. While I was out, I stopped to grab ice cream bars and popsicles for everyone's afternoon snack. Needless to say, they went over well.

At the end of the day, when everyone tarped their newly-constructed strawbale walls to protect them from potential rain, and trudged up to the clearing for their hearty chili supper, this is what our workshop—our beautiful, wonderful, loathsome Grindbygg—looked like. I was in awe when I saw it, amazed by how quickly everything is coming together. It is incredible what twenty enthusiastic folks can do under the knowledgable direction of an excellent leader! How many months would it take Tyler and me to accomplish what these people have in just a day and a half?

Tyler and Grindbygg, End of Day 2 of Straw Bale Workshop Grindbygg Straw Bale Walls in Progress!

When I asked Josh how his day was, he smiled and agreed: it was his ideal day, too. "I felt really productive," he said. "And I laughed my ass off." I'm not sure you can ask for better than that!

Now, as I write this, Andrew and some of the workshop participants are still around the bonfire, singing everything from The Grateful Dead to Madonna. Tyler and I are up in our house, typing away, and happy. How comforting it is to hear the laughter and songs of people we care about filtering through the night woods.

I am reminded of Becky, who told me once how she wants to die: upstairs in bed, listening to her friends and family laughing, chatting, and cooking food downstairs. I can imagine slipping off peacefully to the clink of wine glasses, the scrape of pans across cast iron stove grates, the jumble of laughter and conversation of really, really good people. I have to say, it would be a good way to go.