Taking the Elements Personally

Wren on April 29th, 2010

“At least it’s not rain; a high wind is fine with me,” I said to Fairie Festival organizer BiBi. Famous last words. Half an hour later, after four fairie volunteers had helped me wrangle/wring/wizard my three EZUp canopies open and into place, a very focused gust of wind tossed tent number three over my van and down the hill, as I was scrambling to stake tent one. Number three lay planted, like an evil, mangled flower, upside down in the middle of the field. I’m thinking insurance claim.

“At least it’s not rain,” I had said, because last year’s Fairie Festival was epically tragic. I had planned to make the most of the weekend, hiring five helpers, renting four spaces and ordering tons of fair trade instruments and handicrafts, fun lefty buttons and bumper stickers, scarves, hats and handmade batiks. The Fairie Festival is always good to us, usually our best show of the year, bringing us the income early in the season to pay our booth rentals for the rest of the season. So I wanted to make the most of the convergence of Heathcote Earthings’ wares with our core customer base (winged people).

But an outdoor festival in the spring is a roll of the dice. And although I bet the house, last year was not my (or anyone’s) year. A steady, heavy rain for the entire festival cut attendance to a fraction and left most of our inventory ruined. The five helpers got paid but there was no surplus to cover booth fees for the rest of the season.

Sunday night after the public had gone home, vendors, volunteers, organizers and Spoutwood farm residents gathered for dinner under tents. I could tell that the rain was as devastating to Spoutwood owners Rob and Lucy Wood, and to their programs as it was to me and mine. They, too, depend on this weekend each year to finance much of their educational work. The hundred or so people at that dinner were shell shocked and grim as organizers gave speeches thanking everyone and encouraging positive thoughts. I was warmed by sentiments expressed, that nature gives and nature takes; we were due for a year like this after many blessed ones; we would all land on our feet. Wren always does, but not Heathcote Earthings. That was the beginning of the end for this project.

We couldn’t even pack up at the end as it continued to rain. My partner Iuval and I came back the next day. Still raining. We put the mess in the van and headed for Heathcote. I was thinking…insurance claim!

So a couple days later, when the skies seemed like they’d had their say, I put up my canopies on the Heathcote playground to spread things out, dry them, see what could be saved and what would be written off. Ha! This was the move the rain was waiting for. It returned, and with the ground already saturated, the Heathcote valley, yes, including the streamside playground, flooded.

The Community was at dinner on the mill’s side porch. Someone mentioned that the flood waters were nearing my tents. “Oh I’m not worried. I have all the boxes up on tables,” I said, as we began to see hackey sacks and maracas floating by. Water laughs at me, “You should be writing, you fool! What are you doing playing with all these toys? I’m giving them to the bay so you won’t be burdened and distracted!”

But I wasn’t listening so Heathcoters were suddenly gone from their plates, knee deep in flood waters, carrying crates, boxes and displays to higher ground.

The five elements, water, air, fire, earth and spirit, can each be a blessing or a curse in different amounts and different moments. I realize now that community is a sixth element, and I am so often blessed with just the right amount of it. How can I ever give back enough to these wonderful people who, time and time again, are there beside me in the flood waters of my life? It is my joy to try.

So, I don’t know how many handmade, fair trade, seed filled hackey sacks are bobbing around the Chesapeake Bay because of me, but they’re biodegradable. At least I wasn’t stocked to the gills with those plastic dryer balls that reduce your drying time by forty percent. That would be ecologically unfortunate.

Now, as I set up my wares under a tent that looks like a giant bent, arthritic insect, I ponder my future. My associates and I have been on a slow track to closing out Heathcote Earthings to focus on writing projects such as the Hippie Chick Diaries book. The rain and the wind are just manifestations of my own inner Baba Yaga, torturing me, yes, but for the purpose of revealing my true potential to me. Let’s make this year a wonderful, and final year for Heathcote Earthings! See you  there!


Spoutwood Farm Center Inc. is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Educational Farm
4255 Pierceville Rd. Glen Rock, PA 17327 717-235-6610

Visit the Facebook Group page for the 2010 May Day Fairie Festival

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Smile and frown. I was Facebook messaged to put this grassroots “press release” in my status bar, but it has more characters than my status bar can swallow! So I’ll stick it in here, with some of my favorite pictures from Fairie Festivals past. I’ll be there, on the hill called Frodo’s Eye (there’s a strawbale observatory a few yards from my stand). Our booth will be mainly Heathcote Earthings, selling the jewelry I make from natural and recycled materials, and fair trade crafts from around the world. We’ll also have information about Hippie Chick Diaries and Heathcote Community. So strap on your wings and see us there! —WT


Spoutwood Farm Center, an organization dedicated to bringing people and nature together, presents…

The 19th Annual May Day Fairie Festival

This year’s May Day Fairie Festival will be held at Spoutwood Farm on April 30th from 12:00 PM to 7:00 PM, and May 1st and 2nd from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM each day. The weather reports look DRY and SUNSHINE-filled!! Yay!

Admission is $15 for people over 12, $5 for people 12 and under, and free for those 2 and under. A three-day pass is available for a reduced price of $30…the three day pass can also be used to get through the gates quicker, even if you are only using it for two of the days.

Those who decide to volunteer when they arrive at the festival can request a 2-hour job assignment; upon completion, the admission fee will be refunded.

Spoutwood Farm is just outside of Glen Rock, PA, 45 minutes north of Baltimore, 30 minutes south of York, PA. Parking will be available near the farm.

The May Day Fairie Festival is the brainchild of Rob and Lucy Wood, owners of Spoutwood Farm, an organic farm in the Community Supported Agriculture movement. It began as a party for about 100 friends, and was has been celebrated by 16,000 “friends” of the little people from the local area, all across the US and across the Atlantic. Previously a one-day festival, a second and third day were added as a response to the festival’s rising popularity.

Once again, the festival will celebrate the beginning of spring and all of the nature spirits return to the warm world with 70 arts and crafts vendors (mostly featuring handmade art inspired by the little people), performances by musicians and dancers, storytellers, participatory maypole dancing, fairie craft activities such as wand and garland making (involves a small fee), food vendors, fairie and other nature spirit environments to explore, a Nature Place offering a place for environmental, health, animal interest and other groups to share their vision, fairie and gnome habitat tours, fairie tea parties, guest appearances by the Green Man, the Mossmen, Sweet Pea and others.
Families attending this event have discovered that this event is not just for kids!

The fairie and May Day themes go back to ancient times in almost all cultures, especially to the Celts of the British Isles who had a festival on the first of May called Beltane. It was a time of great rejoicing at the return of the earth’s abundance in spring and the impending bounty of summer. The Celts celebrated the spirits of nature by honoring not only the plants that they could see and smell but also the unseen beings of the fairie realm.

© 2010 Spoutwood Farm Center

Spoutwood Farm Center Inc. is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Educational Farm
4255 Pierceville Rd. Glen Rock, PA 17327 717-235-6610

Visit the Facebook Group page for the 2010 May Day Fairie Festival

Please join our Hippie Chick Diaries fan page on Facebook!

Candy Wrappers

Wren on April 27th, 2010

Candy wrappers and unopened bank statements. Handwritten directions to properties for sale, other women’s numbers, receipts that mapped out the months that we traveled, fixed the car, rewired the house, ate out, bought books. He had cleaned out his car one day when he was about to leave on a trip. All the clutter from his floorboards went into a plastic Giant bag, which I discovered again today, under my kitchen table. I was cleaning my house, reclaiming my space, keeping my mind busy now that he’s gone for good.

He had enough money that, when his statements from various banks came in the mail, he just left them in the car, unopened. He wasn’t putting money in, just living off the proceeds of the sale of his house in his last divorce. The real estate bubble was good to him, I guess.

I live off fiscal optimism and low expectations. He hated my relationship to money.

I sorted the contents of the bag as best I could. I was already filling a box with his things to send him, so the mail and the receipts went in there. Wrappers in the trash, receipts too faded to read, I recycled. An old pipe and clamp from a car repair I staged to add to metal recycling by the barn. I got to the bottom of the Giant bag, just grit and leaves. I was done.

I washed the kitchen floor, hands and knees. I sorted shelves and shelves of junk, easily letting go of stuff that hadn’t been visible to me in years, picture frames I’d meant to use, some CD rack…Boxes for giveaway, boxes to take to the classroom, recycling, laundry…And the walls of my rooms seemed to step back, admiring corners forgotten until excavation.

Then another waste bucket was full, ready to go to the cans. as I pulled the plastic awkwardly I could see them spread across the trash–Hershey’s–those immortal candy wrappers. He was going with me all the way to the trash, getting the last word, sweet talking me as I discarded him again.


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Protected: The Captive Fire

Wren on April 19th, 2010

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