Retreat

Despite the grey, drab day, my girls and I were teeming with excitement last Wednesday as we slowly drove down Rockton Road, where the path before us turned from asphalt to crunchy limestone gravel beneath our tires.  We knew we were nearing our destination.

Coming into focus on our right was the farm that we visited many times in the past.  That wonderful place where naturally and ethically grown produce and animals thrive, and people aid in that growth with so much vibrancy and respect for Earth and what she provides for us that it is truly inspiring.

But this was not our final destination this afternoon.  Today we were venturing to a new space on the property of Angelic Organics.  Today we were lucky enough to visit the new Angelic Organics Lodge, nestled on the north side of Rockton Road on a gorgeous limestone bluff.

This space was beyond what I envisioned.  We walked through the entrance of this newly renovated space and quickly found ourselves standing on a deck overlooking an expansive oak savannah.  A muskrat scurried into the bend of Kinnikinnick Creek that lay before us, and we could hear nothing but the sound of the wind blowing through the trees, and the birds chirping happily in anticipation of warm spring weather soon to come.  The quiet of this space was so pleasantly overwhelming.  Such a change from the busy sounds of the city that we are often engulfed by on a daily basis.

Inside the walls of the lodge itself were lovely bunk rooms, a commercial kitchen, and a stunning dining hall that boasted a gorgeous stone fireplace.  And perhaps my favorite part of this building was the floors.  The flooring was made with craft paper, glue, water and then sealed with a water-based finish.  It was simply stunning!

This summer the lodge will be the home of Angelic Organics Learning Center’s Overnight Farm Camp, but the best part is, this space is not just for kids!  The lodge will host family weekends, adult farm camp, and even a weekend wellness retreat, complete with farm yoga.  Yes, please!

And if seeing the new lodge was not enough, our afternoon concluded with a chance to see baby goats, newly birthed on the farm.  And not just see them, but hold them, snuggle them and just love on them for quite some time.  It was the absolute best!

I invite all of you to check out the Angelic Organics Learning Center website for more information about all of their amazing programs.  The staff there is beyond words, and they are so helpful in answering any questions you may have about their workshops, camps, and more.  We are so blessed to have a space such as this in our area!

Reminiscing

This morning I am sitting at my computer with the windows open wide to the morning. It is still dark outside, but the sound of the birds in the trees can be heard over the soft hum of the breeze blowing through the screens. It is indeed a wonderful morning. I push the thoughts out of my mind that question why it is so warm on this day in the middle of March where I find myself sitting in a shirt that bares my arms, the window open and a glass of iced tea by my side. I replace those questioning thoughts with ones of remembrance and gratitude.

The weekend was a great one. One in which we were able to see, and spend quality time with, each and every member of our extended family. My girls were able to play outside, and eat just about every meal out of doors. The tiny asparagus shoots and rhubarb that I planted last year began emerging from beneath the soil and I felt great relief knowing they had made it through the winter. We will indeed have some of our own homegrown food very, very soon.

Over the weekend my husband and I were also extremely lucky in that we were able to attend an amazing local food conference hosted by our state university extension office. I loved attending because of the discussion local food, but also because the seminar was hosted at the forest preserve where I attended residential summer camp so many years ago.

As we neared the lodge where the meeting was to be held, I saw the flag pole where each and every morning we would gather to raise the flag and sing songs. I noticed the path to its right that led us deep into the woods for our many adventures with with nature: hiking, tracking, cooking over an open fire, swimming, canoeing, even repelling. (Yes, the girl who is deathly afraid of heights repelled down a rock cliff! That just shows you how deeply I enjoyed being at this camp.) I took a deep breath in and realized that despite all of the years that had passed, it still smelled familiar.

We entered the lodge and the fond memories continued to flood my mind. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted the dormitory where we spent so many nights chatting about our amazing adventures and snuggling beneath the blankets on our bunks, anxious for the new excitement that would greet us at our rising. My husband and I then walked into the dining hall, where many were gathered for this local food discussion, and I was reminded of the meals I shared with friends in this space. The sense of community I felt as we took turns passing food around the table, and learning about stewardship. We only took that which we needed and learned not to be wasteful because the earth was what gave us this bounty, and we must show gratitude for that which many are unable to consume.

While the discussion of local food was a fabulous one, a great learning experience, and a chance to connect with other like-minded individuals; these memories made this day a special one. I am reminded of those moments in my life that brought me to where I am today. Those little experiences, that we may not view as important at the time, mold us into the people we will become later in life.

I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful Monday and an amazing week!