Monday, June 18, 2007

Community and Down on the Farm!

I’m reading a really good book called MaryJane’s Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook : for the farmgirl in all of us by MaryJane Butters. (Arielle—she wrote the forward in Women of the Harvest) I love it! I’ve devoured it! The section of the book is called “Each Other” and talks about community, the good old days, lending a hand, farmstyle celebrations, etc. She talks a lot about when she was growing up in her Mormon home and community (she has since left the Mormon faith) her mother and all the neighbors were immersed in helping one another. Her mother led a group called The Relief Society. These Mormon homemakers met once a month, taking turns teaching one another and providing relief to those whose burdens had become too heavy to bear alone. Her mother told her, “We had lessons on things like manners, sewing, and cooking, and we organized ourselves into a clean-up team. We also emphasized the importance of dressing nice and helped each other with that.” Her mother also met twice a month with another group for nearly 50 years. This was a group of 15 women that came from a cross section of religions. One night a month they would play pinochle and the other night was for needlework. And her mother said, “And we always made a big deal out of our birthdays.”

MaryJane continues by saying “What I remember of my childhood challenges me now. The buzzword these days to describe what I had is ‘community’. Our entire culture as Americans has changed, but what hasn’t changed is our collective longing for community—the ‘full purpose of heart’ I grew up studying. It’s a way of life that’s hard to keep, and it’s an unbelievable amount of work. But the promise to be faithful to the good in each other is a promise absolutely anybody, anywhere, can make and decide to keep, religious or not.”

This has really started me thinking. It’s hard for me to put in words. Many days, more often than not, I feel like I’m desperate to just touch base with others. I could never really put my finger on the feelings until I read this and now I am convinced it is just what she is talking about that I am missing…ongoing relationships with other women. To help each other, to play, to talk, to encourage, to learn.

I’ve discovered that I am really a home-body. I don’t like to go places very often, most especially with a car full of children. Despite this I desperately find myself yearning to have meaningful conversation with other adults, other women.

When we lived in Bothell my neighbor and friend, Helen, and I would meet 1-3 times a week for morning coffee. We would also help each other with childcare. This is something I don’t have here anymore but I miss it a great deal. I wouldn’t trade my 2.6 acres, goats, chickens and gardens for anything but I feel that there is more to community then what I see right now. I want what those Mormon homemakers had in each other. I want what those 15 women had together for 50 years. I want community.

I’m not sure where this will lead me. It has inspired me though and I hope to be able to encourage others and to grow friendships.

(I’ll check to see if any of the neighbors hope to move anytime soon!

So, speaking of community! The biggest event this weekend on the farm was a roof raising party for the guest house! We had FIVE families and 2 singles join us yesterday (June 17) to get the roof on the guest house!! The sheathing is on the roof and the sides. Ready for shingles, siding, windows and doors. Thank you so much to all who took the time, energy and money to spend the day with us!!! You definitely have an invitation to utilize the guest house once it's done, almost anytime you want.


Liz in Seattle said...

I'd LOVE to be back in day-to-day community, dear friend. Emails are great, but...

You know what I'm praying everyday. As God wills...and He will take care of all the details!

Bluecanopy said...

great ideas...i love the longevity of their relationships and the reality of what that means...weathering hurt feelings, various situations, etc.

so much to learn...

i heard the most recent publication of handmaiden dealt with women and community...have you read it?

Mimi said...

It did, Sara, yes.

Do you participate in your church's Book Club? I founded one after realizing I was languishing without friendships, and I so needed them.

Susan Sophia said...

I have not read that Handmaiden but looked it up at looks good.

I have not joined the book club simply because it meets at 10AM on a Tuesday and I'm a homeschooling mother of 4 rambunctious children and it just wouldn't work. :(

I have some ideas brewing. James came home last night and said, YOU NEED TO BE the catalyst in starting something. And I will, I just need to decide what exactly I want. I like the idea of a meeting 2x a month, once for fun and once for work. The work being either we all sit and craft (sew, scrapbook, knit, etc.) OR work collectively on a project for someone who needs it. I'm not sure. It would also be fun to teach each other things like knitting or sewing or canning.
MaryJane's Farm has a website called Farmgirl Connection. Here you can start or join a Farmgirl Chapter...this is what it says about's very intriguing to me. I like the idea...(the bold is my emphasis)
A farmgirl believes in the strong arms of friendship, community and the just plain fun of being together. A farmgirl takes joy in the quiet satisfaction of making things with her own hands. She exudes kindness, grace, humility, gentleness, patience and generosity, and loves the simple pleasures in life. A farmgirl is loyal and caring, especially when it comes to her family, friends and community. She gives generously of her time and talents. Farmgirls love to get together to share their ideas. She can be with or without fields and stock. Farmgirl is a condition of the heart.

Arielle said...

Remember when I recommended the other two books to you, I mentioned that there was a third one that I was going to post about? Well, I still haven't done the post, but that was the book! It was the day after I sat in a coffee shop on my day off (I am growing to really love Jewish holidays!) and read it cover-to-cover over SIX HOURS!

I love that book. I want to BE her. Except, you know, not a lapsed Mormon. But all the other stuff :)

Dawn said...

This is such a good idea. I loved being over there with you today, it was really nice. :)