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Hello, Dear Friends! Wow – the time has certainly flown here at Northwoods Stewardship Center! From the day we arrived through today, many things have happened and an abundance of new memories have been made, as we continue to grow and explore in countless ways. 

      We said our farewells to Dave who had joined us for the first day, and thanked him for all the wonderful things he has brought to our group. Now, Misha and Anna have been instructing us as we wrap up our winter expedition and prepare for our coming spring journey.  

      One of our first tasks after getting here was to create a new living space. We limbed trees and peeled the bark with drawknives, and used lashing to erect large canvas tent structures which we covered with tarps. This was no simple thing and it took much effort – mentally and physically. Teo was in charge of the operation and it was his job to figure out the angles and measurements, and we all had to work as a team in the sweltering heat to safely raise the beams. The end result was one beautiful tent for cooking delicious meals, and another for eating, doing academic work, and other things. We do, however, have the luxury of sleeping in the center’s bunkhouse and lean-to. Other than that, we spend most of our time outside.

Teo works with lashing

      One of our big projects here at our new basecamp was making pack baskets. A semester alumnus mom, Penny Hewett, came to teach us this art. We spent our first day with her pounding black ash logs to make strips to weave. The musical ringing of hammer on wood rang through all the land! Over the next few days we worked on making the base and weaving the strands together into beautiful shapes – you would be surprised to know that we all started with the same size and amount of everything, as each of the finished products are all so incredibly unique! We are all so thankful to Penny for sharing her time and knowledge, and we will carry these new skills and inspiration with us for the rest of our lives. Instead of keeping the treasure we made we gave it away to another member of our group along with words of gratitude and kindness, and received these things in turn. Fact: when one wears a pack basket, they feel ready for whatever life throws their way!

A sunny day for basket-making

Lissa begins her basket

      As I have said before, we are always looking for opportunities to share the things we have with the community. So, with the skills we learned in putting up the tents, we packed into the van (for the first time since starting expedition in February) and headed to Dreamland of the Green Mountain Druid Order near Montpelier. There we built three more tent structures, and learned about the community there, connecting with two of the members: Fearn Lickfield who is one of the founders there, and Randy Knaggs, who happens to be a former Kroka board and staff member. We sat around a lovely crackling campfire in the center of an incredible stone circle and swapped stories. We spent the night there in a quaint yurt and departed the next morning, ready for our next adventure.

Around the fire at Dreamland

Our contribution to Dreamland of the Green Mountain Druid Order: soon-to-be covered pole frames!

       And what an adventure it was! In the rain we were “set free” in twos and threes in the town of Montpelier, to explore, journal, and purchase goodies for ourselves and the group. At one point we gathered under the overhang of Joe’s Kitchen. Joe himself stuck his head out the door of the building and asked us if we liked pulled pork sandwiches, and shortly after that we found ourselves munching on just that, listening to the animated stories of Joe. This gift is yet another example of the kindness of people. 

Semester Students, rarely seen outside their natural habitat (the wilderness), invade Montpelier

       We continue to deeply live into our daily flow of life here, working hard at our big jobs, helping NSC by cleaning out brush and logs from a clearing that will be the sight of a new barn, and doing other chores. For academic work we have been studying Where the Rivers Flow North by Howard Frank Mosher, diving deep into its story by doing skits, writing essays, and even watching the movie adaption. On April 20th we took a trip to Sterling College to tour the campus, and had the pleasure to meet Havah, a 2018 Kroka Semester alumna. We swapped stories with her, as well as inspiration and laughs! We also enjoyed meeting the cute farm animals there.

April 22nd

      As for fitness, we have been learning and relearning many unique exercises from Anna, including handstands, doing laps in the freezing cold pond, and learning how to stand on each other’s shoulders. We have also been practicing paddling in canoes to prepare for our whitewater portion of expedition, learning the different types of strokes, and how to work as a team to navigate the current of fairly calm waters. Unfortunately, even after a long spell of warm spring weather, winter has decided to remind us that she isn’t quite ready to say goodbye. Cold and several inches of snow have not allowed us to practice on the real rapids. So we’ll just have to figure that out on the go!

Paddling training on the gentle current

      Although we have been itching for the trail, we make it a point to focus on the seemingly little things as well as preparing for departure. Throughout this entire semester, whenever someone goes out of their way to help us, we make it a priority to illustrate and write a thank you card for them. It is a small deed, yet it gives us a feeling of purpose and fulfillment, even as the list of cards to make steadily grows. This leaves me to ask, what simple thing can you do to thank the people that offer you kindness in your life? Whatever it is, it never has to be perfect, the only requirement is that it’s from the heart. 

            Tomorrow is our day of departure. We will be leaving early in the morning, paddling along in canoes – free at last upon the water! What will the coming days be like? What new adventures lay in store for us in the thawing wilderness? This is up to us to discover.

Onward to spring!

http://screaminridgefarm.com/ (Joe’s Kitchen)