Today I am preparing to leave for a week-long trip to Buckeye Gathering in Northern California. I have never been to this particular gathering, or even to this part of the world. For three years I have worked in the kitchen at another skills gathering in the North Cascades, Saskatoon Circle, and have found a deep level of Belonging in these types of ephemeral communities, among them also The NW Permaculture Convergence, and Singing Alive.
For one week, we are not only learning the 'hard skills' of making knives, tanning hides, weaving baskets, or felting wool, we also practice the 'soft skills' of sharing songs and stories, holding each other accountable, and supporting each other in the learning process. For me, working in kitchens is one of the greatest joys - preparing nourishing food for people who have been using their hands and their hearts all day to create things - sometimes people are making things for the first time since they were very little kids... alongside children, alongside elders. Often being on kitchen crew means half a day of singing the food into existence as we chop veggies, stoke fires, stir, and prepare the meal. It's a fun way to serve!
In the mild and wet Pacific NW winters, clothes lines through the house and out of the rain produce the same effect as the plastic bags on the porch. A temporary array of clothes-pinned colours that say, "We're a part of your life!" and when I lived in a house of seven people, each others' laundry became our ever-changing winter decoration.
When I was on the road for five months in 2013, I found that when I would arrive somewhere, setting up my "home base" helped keep the continuity of my Life grounded enough to pay attention and really sink into the place I was visiting. Unpacking my clothes, setting up a small alter, my pens, my journal... settling in. I have come to love the way the texture and colour of my shirts look folded on top of each other because they're soft and faded and familiar to me.
I know I will bring the feeling of these plastic prayer flags, laundry lines, and stacked shirts with me to Northern California. All of them filling in a deep level of peace that I am in the moments of song and sharing, excitement and learning, and quiet times listening or alone. It's why my little theme for myself when I travel is "Walking Roots", because even temporary things give us feelings that may stay with us. Grounded wherever we are, simply by paying attention.