As you may remember, this weekend was when I was being given a weekend pass to take 3 whole days off to attend the Village Continuum this weekend just gone. It was a weekend filled with learning old skills such as bow or arrow making, barefoot shoe making, scything, foraging, meditation and free movement, just to mention a few of the things going on over the 3 days.
Friday 13th started off with the school run, dropping Jasper off for an excursion to the Ballarat Show. From there we drove over to Clarkefield (near to Riddles Creek) where the continuum was being held. After a quick coffee stop we arrived just after 11 to a cacophony of dogs and a crowd of tiny homes on the wonderful Hollyburton Farm. Greeted with welcomes and hugs from those already arriving, I farewelled the rest of my family and headed off to my home for the next 2 nights.
Gypsy and I became acquainted and after stashing my gear, I grabbed my bow and headed over to meet the others who were arriving. Just before lunch the arrow making started. With Betsy my bow close at hand I selected my dowel and started sawing and sanding nocks. Colours chosen and I was cutting then wrapping on my fletching and before you know it I was sitting in the sun with my instructor, armed with a lighter, hot glue gun glue and my arrow tips. 5 arrows completed and all before dinner!
Josh, my instructor, and I made plans to go for a shoot at 7am the next morning and after a gourmet dinner of roasted chickens from the farm and a Thai green curry, I was off to bed around 9pm for an early night. I lit a small twig fire in my tiny little wood stove and snuggled in under my lovely thick wool doona and drifted off to a blissful nights sleep.
Saturday dawned beautifully. I was woken by the lovely sound of singing. Mel was leading a sit in (meditation) at 6 so started to sing about 5;45am. I opened my little windows to better hear her and the birds who woke along with her. Although I
wasn’t meditating I decided to get up and find out if the kettle was boiled. At 7am Josh, accompanied by Eli, Kasper and Sonny, the 3 other arrow making instructors, showed up and we headed out to shoot. So much FUN! 😀
We headed back to the most awesome breakfast of farm fresh eggs, homemade baked beans, mushrooms, mountain bread and chai tea. LOTS of chai tea. My brand new addiction! 🙂 Thanks Kate!
After breakfast we split mainly off into 2 groups. Bow makers and shoe makers. These were the 2 biggest stills on offer for learning for the weekend and both required the full 2 days to master. As I had already made my bow with Lars on Mothers Day I was signed up for shoe making this time. We started off with a look at a few pairs of Indrani’s beautiful shoes, talked about leather then chose the leather we wanted to work with. Then it was time for our maths lesson. Nothing too complicated but we were making our patterns so precision was paramount. Between balancing imperial and metric, sharing tools and working out centimetres or millimetres we all drafted our patterns for our right feet then set to work cutting out our patterns. From there we measured, made holes and then sewed our shoes together. With a simple pocket made, the top part was cut open (nerve-wracking much) and we all had a sort of shoe on our feet. More measurements, more cutting and more sewing and hey presto, a shoe complete! A magic moment.
If you’re lucky enough to have feet basically the same shape you can use the same pattern piece for the other foot but sadly I have some rather different feet (as in my left is 6mm wider and 5mm longer) so back to pattern drafting I went. Then on to more cutting.
Saturday night saw me ducking out of the evening early with a headache sadly, due to a little bit too much sun (nothing severe) and a day spent drinking chai which was made with rooibos tea and hence caffeine free. This little caffeine addicts brain was not happy. 😦 I took a couple of tablets, drank some water and ducked into bed around 8pm for an early night.
Sunday morning saw a repeat of the day before with an early morning shoot after watching the sun rise followed by another spectacular breakfast. I must say, our chef Sun was truly a master. The food was amazing!
Shoe making continued and after a quick lunch we all dove right back in, desperate to walk out of the continuum at 5pm, clad in our own shoes. We all made it! 😀
I feel like I’m not doing justice to the rest of the village though. We got to sample weed pesto, made with mallow, goosefoot (AKA stickyweed), chickweed, clover, and several other weeds whose names I either didn’t know or have forgotten. It was amazing! Basket makers wove their magic (I was most keen to make a basket but sadly time just did not permit – next year for sure), natural movers made their moves, sparks flew with Speedy as he showed us his flint and tinder skills, and so much more. In fact, a rather funny story. Speedy was teaching me to use my cheap eBay flint and steel and I asked him if he’d ever heard of the upside down fire technique which we’d learned from reading the Milkwood blog. Speedy laughed. Guess who taught the Milkwood crew to light them like that! Yep, Speedy! 😀
And amongst the learning and village life wove children of all ages, 3 dogs, 3 cats, 2 cockatiels in their cage and 4 piglets. Yep, 4 little bottle fed pigs roamed around like cats. Feeding time resulted in wet snouts shoved into toes and inquiring eyes with long lashes checking out if we were mum with the bottle. For those keen to help, there were goats and a cow to milk, eggs to collect, and more. Music wove around it all too, people singing as they worked, winging as they collected their breakfast or whistling whilst they walked. Our shoe making group sang whilst we crafted which felt so very right. Much like women of old would have done whilst they did their washing or made their shoes too I’d imagine.
As we drove home I asked permission to attend the Village in 2016. It was wonderful to see my kids lovely faces and to introduce them briefly to those I met on the weekend but I was a long way from ready to leave the wonderful village that I’d been a part of for 3 wonderful days. I’ve learned so much, not only the skills on offer to learn over the weekend, and have much more yet to process from all I’ve learned. Bring on 2016 and I can only hope for other similar gatherings over the next year. I’m feeling so refreshed and reinspired so 2016 had better watch out! 😀