It’s late winter and the nights are cold and some of the days are reasonably warm. This is when the sap runs in trees. Here at Glomus Commune, several folks, led by Taliesin, have been tapping maple trees to make syrup. The process is sometimes called “sugaring”.
I published two Facebook posts about the process, trying to document it from collecting the sap to boiling it down. Here’s the first post:
One of our neighbors, Jeff, left a comment about our sugaring history and, having only been here a bit over a year, I realized I had written “every year” in error. Fortunately, Rachael had the correct history.
Once the sap is collected, it’s boiled down. Taliesin worked at this a long time.
We now have homemade maple syrup for pancakes and waffles (and a jar of ‘maple cream’ to spread on toast). We grow vegetables and raise livestock here, but we also use our land in other ways, and collecting sap when we can is one of them.
I decided, long ago, that communities were a balancing act, that for me community exists precisely in what I call the dynamic tension between the individual and the group.
Many people have trouble understanding this. They see a commune, for example, as just a place where a lot of people live. But a commune is more than a collection of people, the same way that a forest is more than a collection of trees. I believe that communes and communities are living, breathing entities unto themselves. And, yes, it’s true that no community could exist without people, but it’s also true that our bodies can’t exist without cells. However, that doesn’t make our bodies just a container for cells.
By dynamic, I mean that the balance is always shifting. Sometimes we need to focus on the contributions of the individuals and sometimes we need to focus on what we have collectively accomplished. Sometimes it’s good to say, “Look, I did this,” but often, it is more satisfying to say, “Look what we did.” I think that it’s hard in this individualistic society (especially if you haven’t lived in community) to appreciate how important being part of that “we” is. (We have someone here at Glomus that is fond of saying that “Teamwork makes the dream work.”) This doesn’t negate the importance of honoring the contributions of the individuals in a community. But it’s always a balance. It’s not about the individual OR the community, it’s both/and.
So we appreciate each other—and we appreciate ourselves as a commune. On Validation Day, we had a card created for each person, but someone also made up a card for “Glomus/EBCF/The Land” where we expressed our appreciations for this wonderful place where we are.
Here at Glomus Commune, we are working to truly honor the contributions of each individual as well as what we do collectively. We don’t always succeed, but it’s what we are working on.
Last month, I wrote a little about Validation Day before the actual holiday. Slowly, after it was over, pictures started coming out on Facebook. I realized that I hadn’t posted them here.
First there was a post from me comparing an ornate card from Twin Oaks with the simpler ones that we had here at Glomus Commune.
As I said, the messages are the most important part. Still, the creativity that goes into the cards can be stunning. Here’s a post from the beginning of this month talking about what happened at Twin Oaks.
At the busy communes, I think that this is a wonderful way for us to remind ourselves that we care about each other.
We have had snow for months here at Glomus Commune and we are still waiting for it to clear, but there is snow and ice at all the communes. Here’s some pictures of it from our Facebook page and various Instagram accounts.
First, here at Glomus:
And at East Wind, they are very excited about the Ice Pillars that have formed:
Twin Oaks contributed a video of one of their creeks in the snow:
Art is found in many places in the communes. One place that we have art at Glomus Commune is in the bathrooms and toilet rooms. The first two photos are from the only real bathroom that we have, with a flush toilet and a shower; the second two photos are from what we sometimes call the “poop coop”, a humanure toilet in a small building shared with the chickens; and the final two photos are from a humanure toilet that we set up in a nook in the barn. You might as well have nice things to look at while you sit on the throne.
Several months ago, we made a decision here to keep the farm business called East Brook Community Farm, but to change the name of the community to Glomus Commune. Of course, we got lots of folks asking us what Glomus means. Recently, Theresa put out a Facebook post explaining what the glomus fungi was and why we chose it as the name for our community:
And, there were pictures! Here are the two mushrooms on our communal property that Theresa was talking about.
But the glomus fungi doesn’t produce mushrooms. Instead, as Theresa said, it creates an arbuscule which it uses to exchange nutrients with a plant. So Theresa also included this close up of an arbuscule.
I love what Theresa wrote that both describes the relationship of the fungi to the plant and what we are trying to achieve in our commune: “Intimate, foundational, layers upon layers, sharing very different lives in the very same space.”
It’s what this blog is all about and it is how, I believe, we are meant to live. At the same time, many people find communal living hard and new communities fail at a rapid rate.
On Facebook I started exploring this paradox over several posts. In this one I decided to look at why, if we are tribal animals, communal living doesn’t come naturally.
Yes, I got thirty-one responses (actually, a few of the responses were mine, responding to other comments). Here are a lot of them, beginning with a quick response from Nyle Alantin, followed by a two part comment from Lucy Perry, which elicited a much longer comment from Allen Butcher.
Then there was a back and forth between Zamin Danty and me:
Then Katya Slepoy stepped in, eliciting reponses from Theresa, me, Allen, Rejoice, and Dina Ciccarone.
Then Allen wrote an extremely long comment that got a response from Delaney Calyx which elicited two more comments from Allen:
Finally, another commenter, Mary Hall stepped in and started a back and forth with me and Allen.