Debra Paints a Winter Scene (Nov 2008)

The front cover was painted by Debra Barrett of Kaslo, a friend of Richard’s who designed the JLRC logo. The watercolor painting includes the beautiful lake and valley view from the retreat center. Richard has always liked this image because of its spiritual context in relation to winter, which is fast approaching.

We received our first warning earlier than usual and hurried to dig potatoes and pick the squash just as it froze the squash vines. Now that the temperatures has warmed, Dawn Lasby, a volunteer from Vernon has been transplanting strawberries into the lower field where the squash grew. The field got fenced because we had fifteen people show up for ‘Opening-for-Season Work-Party’ this spring. Last year the deer ate our garlic, onions and potatoes so it was first on our ‘to-do’ list this year. Four years ago there was one six foot row of strawberries in the upper garden. Three years ago I planted the runners into a thirty foot row, three feet wide, and now the new patch is fifty by fifty feet. I use magazines and sawdust in the pathways and wood chips between the plants to slow down the weeds and keep the strawberries clean.

I feel grateful that the retreat season has come to a close. When five people showed up for the Closing for-the-Season Work-Party, I listened to myself talk about the summer and explained how the tree houses needed dismantling. It was the Thanksgiving weekend and Richard’s back was aching. Knowing I had a deadline I still choose to organize the ‘work-party’ for I enjoy people but I have learned I pay the price for such distractions. For here I sit, twelve hours a day, piecing the magazine together, knowing I am a day or two behind schedule.

It is so wonderful that people arrive and are so willing to help out. All summer, the perfect combination of people arrived to make the season successful. Each workshop had its own energy as the cooking, cleaning and gardening happened.

I love being in the garden but instead I cooked most of the season, as that is what was needed the most. No one had signed up for this year’s experience of being our primary cook, so I took on the responsibility which I do with ease. Food always tastes great when it is organic, fresh from the garden, cooked with love and spiced well. Vegetarian cooking is simple once you learn the basics. I feel grateful that a participant signed up for each of the Healthy Habits Cooking time slots, eager to help out, making my job so much easier. Besides learning many recipes from our cook book some also learned to make pickles… because we grew lots of cucumbers; and rye bread… because an earlier participant sent us some sourdough starter. Many thanks to the various ‘kitchen divas’ who showed up to wash pots and pans and tidy the kitchen.

For me, cooking so much of the summer felt like a ‘choice-less’ choice since there was no one else to do it. Often Richard was the third person in the kitchen and he cooked most of the breakfasts. Being in-the-moment kind of person, I focused on the priorities of serving our guests and later on I would muse about possible solutions as I listened to myself complain.

I know when I am really too busy… and after this year’s experience I know it is time to arrange for someone else to cook so I can be the back-up and have time to enjoy a hike in the hills or some yoga. I do get a certain sense of satisfaction knowing that my ideas to make the Center busier than when I arrived, has worked… but I don’t like being so busy or tired I can’t enjoy our guests.

I have decided I would like to hire a couple, one who likes to cook and one who would enjoy gardening or helping Richard with his numerous projects. Jean, a willing worker from France, stayed the entire season and was instrumental in making
the gardens productive. I learn so much each year and with the lower garden in full production we will indeed need lots of help.

I have already started my visualizations to find the right couple for next season. They could live at my little house just down the hill or we have caravans. I know to manifest something I need to get clear and writing about it in Issues is the beginning of the process. I then let go of my expectations and trust that my angels will do their best for I have ‘put-it-out-there’ in the ethers. Some days I get impatient and remind myself to be grateful while I muse over the recent lessons, for I do learn something from every situation.

Since getting ‘Community’ off the ground has been slow going, returning to the basic business model and hiring a few key people makes sense. I do want JLRC to keep growing, but not as fast as my strawberries. In my heart I hope we can figure out what it takes to keep people here but right now there are so many choices. I looked at the Intentional Community website, there are 48 listings in BC, all looking for the right person to make their place, home. On the average most retreat centers/communities don’t last as long as we have and a few like Findhorn, Twin Oaks and Dancing Rabbit have survived and thrived and gives me hope that we can do it too.

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