Little Norway

Tonight we leave Pennsylvania for New York. But first we wait for the bread to rise: sourdough made from scratch, wild yeast pulled out of the air after days of settling.

I’ve been living with TVS at his family’s house in the woods. Here they shoot guns at targets, make the dogs wear orange safety vests, and hunt for turkeys and deer. Sometimes people wave hello from their cars.

It is spring, and it is beautiful. Cold breezes, sunshine. An occasional torrent of rain. Everything green and the river only a few feet away. No cellular data, but there is a strong Wi-Fi connection.

Each house in the area is distinctly American: individualized and expansive, colonizing the forest. It’s all very different from my time in Sweden, when I was surrounded by smaller, uniform cabins that seemed to come from the woods, themselves.

Fiddleheads in the swamp. Photograph by Billimarie.

I helped TVS‘s family plant industrial pumpkin seeds. Each pumpkin seed had a number written on it with a blue BIC pen. I don’t know why. It was the same number, over and over again. I guess that’s how the professional farmers do it.

We made a small fence to keep out the deer and chipmunks. I thought of my mom, and how she would love to live in a place like this, where there is ample land for gardening.

When we first arrived, we spent two days wandering around, looking for wild dandelions. He came up with the idea of making dandelion wine and homemade sour bread. And me being who I am, I liked it well enough to continue along with the flow.

Cleaning dandelion flower heads. Photograph by Billimarie.

Picking flowers is harder than it sounds. Though it is freeing to be out in nature, the constant bending down, bending over, proper plucking–is this too much stem? Is this flower head full? Should I get the little ones, too? But how little?–can get stressful.

After we picked the dandelions, we had to wash, rewash, and wash the flowers, again. There was a lot of slugs and random plant particles like grass and dirt. We boiled three vats of water and dumped it all into a container filled with the dandelions. Each day, we stirred the swampy mush. Then we fished out the dandelion bits, separating it from the water.

Wet dandelion remnants. Photograph by Billimarie.

We still have another week of preparing the dandelion wine batch. Then, we can let it rest in TVS’s glass jug until next year.

TVS is outside, peeling orange and lemon slices for the homebrew. The iPhone timer is going off. It’s my turn to fold the bread.

The older women here are involved in different training programs for healing. EMS is becoming a certified Chakra Dance healer. She invited us to her class; we closed our eyes and danced to music made specifically to open our chakras, then used Crayons to create mandalas based off our visions. There was a retreat this past weekend and I met other women have done Pranic Healing for years. “I use the neurological science,” someone told me. She had studied psychology. She pointed out pressure points to tap whenever you want to relieve stress. I knew about three of them; I like the ones on the hands and fingers, best.

Mouse Tracks in the Mud. Photograph by Billimarie.

I attended their healing session without TVS. It was all women of different ages. They offered to heal a few of us–I said yes and closed my eyes. This was Pranic, which I had never heard of. I’ve received Reiki healing, before…but that was years ago–and also at Burning Man. This time, there was no touching, no massage. My brain tingled each time someone sprayed essential oils into the air: whish, whish. A light floral fragrance blessed by a practitioner. It reminded me of rose hips.

Later, I was by myself, walking in woods I wasn’t familiar with, trying to get back to the house. I wasn’t worried; I found a walking stick and enjoyed examining my surroundings in silence.

The same woman who told me about the pressure points found a huge feather. “Thanks mom,” she said aloud to the air. Her mother had already passed away. I liked that she continued to show gratitude and attributed her good luck to someone special to her, though no longer with us.

360 Footage of Little Norway. Move your cellphone or hold your mouse to look around. Video by Billimarie.