Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Whole Planet Picnic Pics

Folks, many thanks for the kind words and thoughts about my bug; I'm one of those who is convinced kind words truly help. I'm getting around a bit; and apart from the weakness from lying dead for 3 days, recovery looks straightforward. Can't really work outside yet; tried a little and was having my vision "white out" on me just from walking up a little hill; normally a symptom of heat exhaustion for me; shouldn't have been that exhausted.

Here are some pics and comments on our first Whole Planet Picnic (we've been having a bonfire on the solstice for 15 years, but we're shifting focus); and the following Earth Lent week- the participation was a little light this first year- not as much time to get the word out as it needed, for sure; but we'll be continuing, and doing a bit more next year.

This is our normal venue- a substantial meadow, mowed so we can get around just a few days before. You can see tables with food, chairs, and off to the extreme right the bonfire pile; our big attraction.

Having to cancel because of thunderstorms did mess up things a good bit. A fair number of folks had made plans to be here on Thursday; thanfully not too many from too far away. Though we did wind up with some in the Little House until pretty late; good friends from more than 100 miles off. That was very nice, for sure; but not what anyone had planned.

Though we got folks notified about the change to Saturday- of course; the majority of folks had plans already at this point. Ah, well. Next year! Basically we've had groups of from 6 to 50 for this event; last year we had 40+; weather and timing does always make a difference.

We had a great time; watching the still evening fall. The frogs on the pond tuned up and gave a concert; we've had deafening shows once or twice, this was more modest, though the Green frogs were much more vocal this year than ever. We have a small portable "fire pit" to actually toast things on-

and a lovely half-moon. It gets dark, with no extra lights around! Hence the blurry hand held photos; flash is just yucky for things like this; I'd rather have the blur.

We've never had a problem with conversation - folks find plenty to talk about. There are several friends where this is the only time we see them, all year. An added incentive to make the trip, really. Only one kid this time; Smidgen, who had a wonderful time adventuring from one group of adults to another- all alone, in the dark. First time she's really been that adventurous; sometimes she crossed 100 feet of grass, all alone (with about 8 sets of adult eyes watching every step). Fun. good fireflies, but they didn't like the mowed area much.

We start the fire at 10 PM, full dark -

remember why we postponed? Rain? The fire pile was wet, and much harder to get going than most. Oddly, a good fire brings out the latent pyromaniacs; no trouble finding volunteers to "fix" the fire, and get it going; that's one there, to the left.

When it gets going- it's something. Remember the tables and chairs? That's them, to the left, looking tiny. Lights up the whole little valley, and throws sparks 100' into the air. Yes, we're waiting for one to get away; but it hasn't ever happened. Usually on this date you can count on VERY heavy dew, wetting everything, by 10 PM; another reason to wait. But we have a pond, and hose, in case.

Took a good half hour to start to die down. Lots of conversations. There is, indeed, something primal about a fire. Two days later, when it had thoroughly cooled, I swept up the wood ash to use as a soil amendment, fighting the constant trend of our soil to shift into the acid range. Recycle.

Folks started to leave about 11; last ones left about 12:30; sometimes it's gone until 2. Alas, our musicians were mostly not able to make the rescheduled date. But it was an excellent time.

Leading up to- Earth Lent Week. I'm not going to list all the activities here that I know about; just a few; inevitably, one smart alec friend from Minneapolis assured me he would give up snow shoveling for Earth Lent. Another good friend from Yonkers gave up something more substantial; his elevator; and he lives on the 4th floor. A great thing to try. Spice gave up plastic bags- but I'm afraid she may have lapsed. I gave up-pudding. Cigars. Lobster.

Ha. No, I don't indulge in those, anyway. Ok, you ready? I gave up- bathing. :-)

eeeew! LOL! I can SEE you squirm. Two reasons- one, it's pretty hard for me to find something to give up! Already have, lots of things. Two; we already use very little water; a 50 gallon drum pumped by the windmill usually lasts 3 people for 6 days or more, down at the house. But the shower is different; comes from a different tank. So; by way of cutting some usage- I did without (ok, except hands for dinner).

Now- as ColinakaNIM can probably tell you- but is too bashful- actually, if you're working in the outdoors at non-stressful kinds of things, you don't necessarily stink. It's pretty common for us to go 3-4 days without a full shower in cold weather (yes, if it's hot, we do more) - but it's not even offensive to anyone; and not difficult to get used to personally. Sure, if you're used to two showers a day, you'll feel yucky after skipping a couple. Fight your way through; and actually, the human integument does not really require constant bathing, like a hippo or a seal. How often do chimps go swimming? Not much. Then there's this aspect: Women prefer.....

"When they found out afterwards that one of the odours was from a chimp, there was laughter. When they realised that two out of three had preferred the chimp, there was nervous laughter."

I could, of course, claim I was continuing this groundbeaking research...

So. The truth! That's what I did. It does help keep you "mindful"; a good exercise always, and not onerous for just a week. And, I confess, I'm now back to regular showers. So you can relax.

And- if you have stories about your own Whole Planet Picnic; and/or would like to tell about your Earth Lent decisions; please put them here as comments. And let me know if you have pictures you're waiting to send; I'd love to see them, and I've got to kick a couple people to get an email address set up to accept them. I can kick harder if I've got people waiting.


Anonymous said...

This is a report on my Extra Earthy Week. Since it's something I'd been faltering on recently, I decided to forgo all bags at all retail stores, no matter what.
Of course, I realized after having said this that it probably wouldn't be too hard, since there was a good chance I wouldn't even go shopping at all.
But as it turns out, I had to pick up a few groceries on the way home (by bicycle) one day, and didn't have any bags with me but my backpack. Fine, I often do this. At least it was fine until I got to the loaf of bread.
Often I've tied bags to the outside of my backpack when I run out of room, but I couldn't break the vow! And stuffing the bread in the backpack would more or less defeat the purpose of it being bread instead of dried paste.
So I somewhat precariously twist-tied the bread bag to my pack, and punched a tie-down strap through the top of the bag. Was a little nervous about it flying off and becoming road food on the bike home, but it all worked out just peachy. The bananas in the pack got a little smushed, but I was gonna put them in a blender anyway.

It was all pretty easy.

Anonymous said...

G'day from Oz. 6 of us threw our own Planet Picnic here. No bonfire! Maybe never again here, the way things are going. We still had a good time swimming in the billabong- but not sure how long that will last, either. We'll do it again next year, count on it. The Lent part- highly variable; we all did it. We DO like the fact that it's kinda low pressure, try it for a week. My guess is that 2 of us will keep doing it long after. I unplugged the refrigerator... still unplugged; well see how it goes.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Have you ever smelled a chimp?

Anyway, I'm glad you are feeling better...

HeatherK said...

we had a great Planet Picnic, no bonfire because we're in the city but lots of local treats, friends, and music. We gave up our lights for the week, even unscrewed the little bulb in the fridge. We are now using lights once again but usually only one at a time instead of lighting the entire apartment all evening. And it was fun and romantic to do everything by candlelight. The little fridge bulb is still unscrewed, but the fridge is still plugged in. Maybe next year. :)

Greenpa said...

So, Crunch, you missed this bit of news? Women prefer....

"When they found out afterwards that one of the odours was from a chimp, there was laughter. When they realised that two out of three had preferred the chimp, there was nervous laughter."

I could, of course, claim I was continuing this groundbeaking research...

Chryss said...

Not as elaborate as the Planet Picnic, but we hosted a dozen + friends to see our gardens and city chicks, while enjoying local beers... My little attempt to get our Friday happy hour group thinking locally:

Theresa said...

A very low key celebration here - just taking some extra time to appreciate our natural surroundings and take note of the very late sunset (we're located in what some might consider a slightly northern part of Canada). For earth-lent I gave up refined sugar. I am back to using it sometimes again, but a lot less of it and I appreciate it more now. And I use honey much more often instead.

Love your bonfire pics, Greenpa!

Lara said...

I live on the 18th floor. I gave up taking the elevator for a week except for once when a friend was waiting to pick me up. There's no point in taking the stairs down when the friend is idling her car with the AC on, right?

Isle Dance said...

Hope the healing continues...thanks for the great story and photos! Terrific!

Anonymous said...

greetings from Czech Republic. we did have a good bonfire- about 20 of us; a wonderful time. many different choices for E-Lent; my own self, i gave up taxis for the time; back to the bicycle.

Anonymous said...

bwahahahahaha! i've had some husbands who could prolly use lessons in cooperation -- and bathing -- from chimps.

WolfMamma said...

I only bath twice a week, sometimes a bit more often on very sweaty days. It took about a year to switch over to this and have my body find a balance but not everything is good. I use vinegar or baking soda for deoderant and I wash my crouch and armpits daily with a damp washcloth. I personally believe that this is much less hard on our bodies and it definitely has less of an impact on the planet. People should try it and not get discouraged when at first they feel greasy while their body stops competing with constant soap and figures things out.