Charisse (Rebecca) and I finally returned home at around noon today, after an exhausting night, during which we and hundreds of other vehicles, were stopped, three lanes across, for nearly five hours, from about 9:30 p.m. to about 2:15 a.m, due to an intense and fatal three car smash-up just ahead on I 75 N, only about 20 minutes from our Red Roof motel destination. Ended up falling flat into bad around 3:00 a.m.
But even that trying adventure had its interesting aspects. Like the sense of camaraderie that developed around us, as drivers told other drivers what they learned from walking up to the front, where at least 20 vehicles had speeded past us in the emergency lane. Interesting, how community can be created anywhere, as can chaos. This throttling of our usual expectations threatened to verge into chaos, and segued instead into a resigned sense of shared destiny, despite everybody’s exhaustion and frustration — and common solution to the problem of how to pee: squat hunched on seat, carefully pee into a cup, pour out the window. This due to the fact that there was no way to pee privately on the side of the road, due to the rock wall.
When we finally started inching ahead, there were wet spots everywhere on the otherwise dry pavement.
The 26th Annual Southeast Permaculture Gathering in the mountains of North Carolina felt wonderfully authentic and heartfelt. An unusually even mix of elders and millennials (and a few delightful children), male and female (and two trans teens), we laughed and played and learned, held long, deep meaningful conversations over fabulous local food together for nearly three whole days. An overview of the place follows. More specifics in coming blogposts.
The Gathering was held at its usual location, on the campus of the Arthur Morgan School (for 7th to 9th graders) in the well established (since the 1930s) 1200 acre Celo Community, which has been called the “most successful land trust in the United States.” So successful in fact, that those who want to become new members are still on the waiting list after 12 years.
One final note: Here’s Charisse’s glamping tent (at left), set at the far edge of the large field where we all camped around the edges. We were warned not to park in a spot that we had picked out earlier, since it was reserved for the Martini Tent, run by an amazing elder who has been coming to this annual event 22 years, and who holds an open bar all day long for whoever wants to join him and partake in one of his 80 varieties of martini.
You can’t see it here, but the Martini Tent was right behind ours, and we all agreed, that first night’s revelries were a bit too loud and long. They did tone it down the next two nights, and the man himself, who goes by the name JonnyBee, is a wonder, high spirited, endlessly relational, and exceedingly generous. After the event, he handed both Charisse and I shirts that neither of us would ever wear. Which is quite in the spirit of his gifting. We all laughed as he handed me a shirt with glitter on it.
Here he is, JonnyBee, denizen of the Martini Tent!