October Update 2020

Posted October 8th, 2020

There is a small layer of pollen that lines the front pond next to the domes, and its sources include the freshly unraveling fern leaves scattered along the forest floor. They haven’t received the memo that autumn is upon us. It is a heavy season for acorns falling, so the roofs require regular sweeping and clearing. We have just put the windows back on the Soul Kitchen to guard the well of heat that gathers throughout the day to make the inside more comfortable once the sun has set and the night has cooled. The year is marching on.

Most of our meals are prepared over the fire these days, in honor of our “Power Down Sundays” that we celebrated for almost an entire year until we closed in March. For those of you who do not know, or were not able to join us for one of those joyous occasions, we felt that we would share what this experience was like, and reminisce of the fond memories with Hostel Staff and Guest Members.

Every Sunday, for the better part of a year, we would alert Guest Members on Saturday night that we would be shutting down most power to the Hostel on Sunday morning at 8am, and would keep it off until Monday morning 8am. We would keep the water heaters on for showers, and power to the Phoenix composting toilets, because the exhaust fans were necessary to keep them comfortable for usage.

Our Staff would wake up early, start the outdoor main fire for cooking, and get brunch fixings together which included homemade fireside tortillas. We would also get a large pot of hot water ready for tea and coffee, then as the 8 o’clock hour would arrive, we would play Arcade Fire’s “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” loudly and then afterwards race to all the electric breakers, and then power down the Forest.

The first time we tried this, it was a bit of a challenge, but we learned a lot each time and each Sunday we were able to make it more like clockwork, and eventually like a carefully coordinated dance. We noticed immediately that the Hostel folk all gathered around the fire for more time throughout the day and shared stories and definitely more music, because there wasn’t the constant drone of varied musical preferences emanating from the Main Dome’s sound system. We could hear more clearly the birdsong and chirps. The wind through the trees sounded like ocean waves on Jekyll Island. We were more in rhythm to the heartbeat of the Forest.

We would serve this complimentary brunch throughout the morning, and then after we would spend some time at “Dirt Church” which was an opportunity for anyone interested to work together in our gardens for a couple hours, giving thanks to the land we are so lucky to walk upon.

As the day progressed towards the evening hours, we would fire up the Cobb oven and get it ready for “Sunday Pizza Night” dining by candlelight. (We definitely made a vegan-gluten-free option pie.) After dinner, we would do the dish dance with the kitchen lit up with small solar lights, and then finally ring the pots and pans singing “Vital Glory.” This signified that all the tables, floors, and dishes were cleaned and the kitchen was returned to the clean status in which it normally exists.

The campfire would ensue with more stories, live acoustic music, and singing by the moonlight to eventually carry off all Hostelers to their sleepy nests for the incredible rest that can only come from dreaming under nature’s canopy.

Thank you all for these magical Sundays that we shared together, as well as any other day of the week that you may have stayed with us here. Each day is unique in the Forest, and it is complete when you are here with us and the trees. Dr. Bronner, our resident rooster, sends his regards and assures you that he is doing everything in his power to get the Hostel to the other side of these unique times. We thank you for your time and your continued support during our closure, and we look forward to the time we can once again grow together as a Hostel family and community.

With love and good health to you and yours,

May the Forest Be With You

The Hostel