The First Straw Bale

Getting the bales tight against the ceiling

Straw Bale Workshop friends during
week-long workshop June 2010,
sitting on window seat and in dining room


The day has finally arrived.
The straw bale and mud hermitage
is welcoming its first retreatant.
Ann, Tom and I
worked on finishing details this week,
moved in furniture
and this evening
Ann and I welcomed
our first guest into the hermitage.
It is fitting
that one of the people who regularly
retreats at Turtle Rock Farm
is the first.
It is a happy moment.
A moment of profound satisfaction.
A moment of deep gratitude
and expectation.

Our hands have been working on this building,
building it as sustainably as we can
and with natural materials
(straw from our wheat field;
clay from just outside the structure)
for ten months.
We have shared the experience
with many people,
including Steve Kemble and Mollie Curry of MudStrawLove,
a group of 20 people who joined us for a week in June
and many volunteers of all ages
who continued to help us mud the walls.
There will be more to do
when the freezes are over next spring
and we hope to have an earth paint workshop too
next summer to color the walls inside.
But as of now,
the hermitage is a guest house,
a guest house like no other.
Thick walls sealed with clay
create an embrace,
and of the Earth.
A light-streaming cocoon.
A quiet place.
Prayers and peaceful intentions
have attended it
from ground-breaking
through straw bale wall-building
and mudding.
Peace flags on the porch
since June,
now frayed,
speak to hours and hours
of sweat and sore muscles
so that this be a place of healing and hope
for all who visit
and for Earth
which has gifted this building
and all who enter.
In deep gladness,
profound gratitude,
(and giddy joy)
we offer our welcome.