Windward--a Year Later
Katie returns for a visit
This last week, I had the opportunity to make an extended stay at Windward, to help out while some folks were away. In keeping with the cyclical patterns that my life seems to follow, I happened to come at almost the same time of the year as my internship in '08, which was a nice feeling of familiarity, but also seemed to exagerate the differences. I found myself picking lavender in the morning, starting some seeds for fall, and feeding acorns to the goats, revisiting some of my thoughts and experiences from last year.
Almost instantly upon arriving I realized that I felt more capable, more confident and more unconditionally accepted, and was surprised how much the city had apparently eroded some of the personal growth I achieved during my time here.
Katie joins Lindsay and Gina picking blackberries
Other than these internal musings, there has been some impressive progress towards Windward's goal of sustaining the community, and obviously a lot of work has gone into the projects that were just getting started last time I was here. The garden is gorgeous, producing so much that we are able to freeze a significant amount of the green leafy things that were such a delicacy last year, plus tons of delicious tomatoes and basil.
One change that is an obvious improvement is clumping the "three sisters" together--they seem to be using water and shade much more efficiently than last fall, and look healthy and productive. The terraces envisioned last year are also helping, and I was excited to see some peanut plants thriving, a hopeful sign for a future source of the peanut butter everyone loves.
This visit was also the first time that I have seen the "Chickplex", which houses about fifty chickens of different varieties and stages of growth. Probably the entire chicken flock is 2-3 times the size that I'm used to, offering new challenges and learning experiences as Windward deals with the rapid success of this project. I was also interested to finally see Duckponics up and running for the first time.
But for me the most positive changes at Windward are due to the quality of its members. Its a somewhat different atmosphere now that everyone is a relatively permanent resident. While all the interns I've met have been intelligent and interested in their projects, there now seems to be an air of purpose and more longterm focus. Its really exciting to see a commitment to projects that are important to sustaining the community; things like maintaining a stable water supply, which will take more time and involvement than a three month internship could allow.
More than the practical building of infastructure, its nice to have people here that want to put the time into making Windward a more beautiful and livable place. I love the idea that people are invested enough in Windward that they are not only focused on research and survival, they are dreaming up ways to improve their continued quality of life.
Watching this gradual, trial and error process of improvement unfold, and being able to appreciate the steps being taken to further Windward's goals,was exciting but also initially tainted with a bit of regret that I was no longer able to contribute to the evident success. However, as the week went on it was nice to see subtle traces of the work put in by myself and the other interns I lived with, and to realize that everyone of us contributed to the work that is currently being done.
While I was here, I watered young trees that I helped germinate, cooked with Oaxan corn that I had harvested and processed, planted seeds in a raised bed that I helped build, and saw the results of all our efforts at organization and documentation. In the same way, its an amazing feeling to know that the pickles and jams I made with Gina, or the greens I planted in Vermadise, will be enjoyed by Windward for months to come.
Walt kept asking me if I was having a relaxing time, which I didn't know how to respond to, since I came to Windward to work. But as I thought about it, I realized that I really did get a chance to relax and de-stress. It is relaxing to wake up and know that I have meaningful work to contribute, to know that I can use my time as I see fit, to know that I am in a position of responsibility. It is relaxing to not have to compare myself to anyone, or compete with anyone, to know that if there are any problems here, we will all at least make the effort to communicate with each other.
Most of all, I really appreciate the time to nurture the plants, animals, and relationships that are so important here, the chance that I have to watch Windward grow.
Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 69