Sunday, January 22, 2012

Adventure, all the time.

Upon coming to Iowa, I completely underestimated the amount of things I would be experiencing and doing that are pretty much awesome. I knew that snow (and snow related activities) would be a part of the adventure, but I find myself, on a very consistent basis, asking myself several things: how did I got here, who are these people, and what exactly am I doing? All of this in a 'I can't quite believe this, but it's still awesome' kind of way.

Let me explain. 

Last Tuesday I went dancing at Nob Hill. I had heard there were a lot of old people and that the band played mostly old stuff, but in my oh-so-hopeful way I thought it'd be Frank Sinatra type of old, stuff you can foxtrot to, and maybe some waltz and swing. The band, called the Memory Bros, played two-step the entire time. I only know night club two step, so my friends and I proceeded to 'dance' around on a corner of the dance floor, and when I recognized a cha-cha I taught them that. It was fun, in a ridiculous kind of way, and the band was happy to have us 'young people from Seed Savers Exchange' there. Some of those folks can really dance and bust out with all kinds of line dances, but I couldn't keep up enough to learn them. At the very least, we got free cake out of it - one of the dancers had his 88th birthday!

I had a much better dancing experience this Saturday night at the Mid-Winter Contra dance. With lots of spinning, skipping, and awesome music (live, with fiddler and everything) - how could you not love contra dancing? You don't even have to really know what you're doing or even have a partner. I can't wait to continue contra dancing in the spring and summer when it's done more regularly (and apparently in an old school house somewhere outside of town!)

Towards the end of last week it snowed just enough to go sledding, so on Saturday I met my friends outside of town to do such. We grabbed the plastic sleds, walked through the herd of cows to get to the hill (they wouldn't let me pet them), and climbed up the hill to sled. There wasn't enough snow to cover the  bumps along the way down or to create a good pack, but I still giggled like a school girl the entire time (to which my friends made fun of since we apparently weren't even going that fast). I did learn that I really need snow pants, and that if snow gets down your pants it's useful to get it out as soon as possible - no matter how ridiculous you look. But I did experience one of the best things about sledding - going back inside where it's warm to drink hot chocolate and watch a movie. It was fantastic.
Isn't it beautiful?
On Sunday, I helped a friend with a prairie restoration project by wandering around a hill and spreading prairie plant seed. Doing it with a little bit of snow makes it easier because you can tell what you've missed, and the weather warmed up just enough let the seeds sink through the snow to the soil underneath, providing vernalization. He's also using goats (of which he has two that live out there) to help facilitate the restoration. This project comes with experimental design (including a control) and the added bonus of hopefully pregnant and thus milk-able goats to make organic goat cheese. I've been feeding the goats this week, and they also won't let me pet them. But come on - who has friends that have goats, and designs experiments with them, and feeds them organic hay so they can make organic milk?
Me with Freya and Terra!
In fact, Seed Savers Exchange is filled with people like this. A co-worker spent almost two years wwoofing in Australia, and then wrote (and self-published) a book about. Another is starting her own farm and bunny operation. My California buddy is moving back to Davis to start a farm with friends. Another built himself a house that's tiny and movable. The facilities manager called off his winter-camping vacation to be with one of his employees as he was getting a kidney transplant, three years in the wait for. Another whipped up an entire fancy party full of appetizers, as if no big deal and definitely something to rival any fancy restaurant. Another one is writing and producing a whole radio show because he likes old time radio shows. Quite a handful are in a block printing group and are opening a show at an art gallery next week - I happened to buy and send a card to a California friend before I was aware that a coworker made it!

And so, being around all these passionate people is rather inspiring. I want to follow passions I never thought I could before, I feel driven to live my life better and with purpose, and I'm learning to appreciate my creative side. I feel more social pressure to be conscious of the power behind my spending decisions, to think about what I eat and what I do - and that's good. Plus, these people are really nice and friendly - I've only been here a month and already received all kinds of support. They're also ridiculously non-judgmental - like that creative side thing. I don't think I can sing worth shit but they all seem to think that's fine.

And so I'd have to say I'm settling in and trying as hard as I can to live up to the motivation of this blog - undaunted conviction towards the adventure ahead. I think I'm doing pretty well so far. 

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