Forgot to mention yesterday that while I was on the road from Coeur d’Alene to Helena my puppy Shadow finally rebelled at home in Indiana, slipped under the garden fence, and was found a few blocks away by a young woman named Gaia. Animal Shelter called me. Yeeks! I called Rebecca, who had been frantically searching for him. She told me later that he was unrepentant, that he loved his escapade.
In Helena now, with UFO buddy and dear friend Joan Bird. Time to catch up with her.
First, Missoula, on the river bank, where I had stopped for lunch. Not sure if this may be where two Montana rivers converge. One is the Clark Fork. Not sure about the other’s name. The rivers in this part of the west are plentiful, each one extraordinary, and seeming to run clear and pure. VERY unlike midwest rivers.
I arrived at my niece Korrine Rothrock’s house in Coeur d’Alene shortly before we were due to walk to the venue where the Evolution of Green Acres event was to be held. And, on the way, Korrine casually asked, shall we stop by the garden? YES!
Ommigoddess, what a community garden!
And, it’s only three years old, reclaimed from an old weedy swale area for a lumber mill that was full of dog poop! This is the successor to another community garden suspended when the land on which it sat was sold. The new garden space is owned by North Idaho College, and this effort is a complex collaboration that links the college, a non-profit, and several other community groups. Really impressive. And by the way, Korrine, now 35 years old, back when she was in her early twenties started a program to collect extra food from area restaurants for distribution to the poor. She’s been a local food activist all her adult life. So proud of my niece, daughter of brother Mark!
The venue for the event happened to be inside the large warehouse space that her husband Jacob has equipped for his program with the college where he directs Outdoor Pursuits.
About 20 people gathered, most of whom were known to Korrine and Jacob, either because of the garden or other community efforts. Clearly, this was an audience that would appreciate what we are doing in Green Acres. And they certainly did!
That evening, I was to be hosted by long-term friends of Korrine, Janet and Greg Torline (seen above at the back with Korrine’s little girl, Siler Rose; Greg in the plaid shirt). Korrine says Janet has been like a second mother to her, and she now cares for the toddler one day a week.
So, I drove with these two intrepid souls what seemed like forever out of town, along the Coeur d’Alene lake, then up a winding mountain road. To arrive at a destination that, even even in the dim light of night, was obviously unusual and special.
These two are part of the original wave of back-to-the-landers who, in 1973, following the lead of Helen and Scott Nearing, bought land for a song in a remote area and started to build it up slowly, bit by bit, using mostly recycled materials, and along the way, entirely debt-free. The long-term result, a magical little self-sufficient hobbit-like paradise. In the morning I took pics.
But first, I want to tell you of an amazing event that happened the middle of the night. No wind. No obvious “reason.” All of a sudden I heard the ping ping of something hard against the roof, ping ping ping, on and on, for about five minutes. And then, suddenly, it stopped. I made a mental note to check for a nut tree above the guest house in the morning. Sure enough! Heartwood walnuts, I think Greg called them. Now why did the tree choose that particular night, at about 4 A.M. when I was inside, to drop its nuts?
Here’s Janet and Greg, in front of their little handmade home, where they raised two sons, and where every single inch has been thought through, then lovingly and artistically crafted, inside and out.
Here are a few more outside shots.
When I finally arrived in Helena, we ate a great dinner cooked by husband Max (local beef, local garden veggies and chilis), and then took off for a weekly UFO meeting. More on this in next post. Here’s the sign outside their UFO library, where events are held. Amazing!