This morning three of us met at the farmstead to drive over the border to Vermont to spend a few hours volunteering at Merck Forest and Farmland Center. Merck Forest is a place several tribal members have enjoyed in the past. Many have camped, hiked, and explored this amazing local resource. When I first moved to this area from Idaho, it was Merck Forest that I met fellow shepherds and herders at their annual sheepdog trials. It means a lot to many of us and we agreed it was a great place to offer some Community Service.
When we arrived we checked into the visitor center and met the folks who would direct us to our efforts. We were told we would be painting doors, picking up deadfall and debris, and stacking firewood for the lodge. And that is what we did. The weather luck was with us and for December it was mild and no rain fell. We painted, picked up the natural litter from storms, and then the bulk of our work was on a mountain top where we filled an entire dump truck with stacked wood for the staff's winter heat. This felt especially important to me having just had folks over to help me with my own winter wood. It felt like the Gifting Cycle in action, real action, and how I was given the wonderful chance to repay the favor others had gifted to me this past Saturday. Sometimes our faith is alive and howling right in front of us like that.
One of the highlights of the day was getting to talk over lore and Heathenry with the non Heathen Staffers who were chucking wood right alongside us. They were interested in what and who we were and I was glad to be telling them about us (alongside Rev. Timothy Lake and Joanna) while being of use to them as community members. I'm proud that their introduction to Heathenry was with people donating their time to help keep them warm on a Monday Morning!