So we’ve been living up on the hill for about a month now and it’s shifted my relationship with “need”. We are far from living fully primitively yet but that doesn’t prevent “need” from becoming apparent. For example, Indiana has had the rainiest summer and fall on record. With the rich soil and leaf cover the ground and cover stay incredibly wet. When you’re only using fire for cooking, this makes it challenging. Without a shelter, it’s almost impossible to have completely dry wood so keeping a fire hot enough to cook is almost always a challenge. So the question becomes, do I need hot food? Well, when we had volunteers here who worked hard all day and need a hot supper, the answer was definitely “yes”. You have to use your skills to make sure you take care of the community and the need is very real. Other times when I’ve been alone, I can make another choice.

The need to finish a shelter is also very apparent. Not only is there rain, but the nights are getting colder. Yet there is only so much you can complete in a day. As I’ve worked on thatching my shelter I’ve realized how long it will take just to complete this task. Then trying to balance this with the need to deal with the administration of the organization, fundraising and getting essentials such as food and you have to weigh the most urgent needs. We received some fresh vegetables and need to build a root cellar for some, but others such as the summer squash, won’t last even in that. This wonderful food began to rot so the highest need was to figure how to preserve this valuable food that was gifted to us. So I created a drying rack and am experimenting with how well the squash will dry without full sun and in cooler temperatures. Fortunately it seems to be drying okay in the first couple days…and then it rained again this morning, so we’ll see how it’s fairing.

Need has driven what has to made first priority. It’s inspired creativity and experimentation which is one very enjoyable part of this experience. It’s also highlighted where skills need to be improved to make sure we can accomplish what is necessary. Often what we “want” has to be set aside so that we can focus on what we “need”. Trying to plan your day is almost amusing as each day seems to present a new need. Although it can be a challenge, it is also a very positive experience and brings life to a very vibrant place. It takes you to a place of letting go of control and to opening yourself to what is present. It creates an openness as you step into a place of patience and surrender to the moment, just taking care of what is needed.

Resident Debbie Tremel. Originally published 2014