30 Nov November 2022 Digest
One of the delights of living here at Mucknell Abbey is being so surrounded by the natural world, and its patterns. Some of these were feeling quite out of kilter this month, as the weather stayed warm, and the greenhouse continued to produce tomatoes and sweet peppers, if not in their summer abundance, then still in unseasonal quantity. Over the last week or so, though, things have been feeling decidely more winter-y, with some heavy rain, cold mornings and of course plenty of windy days.
We were though glad of the warm and the sun during our Estate days from the 9th to the 12th. The Community were joined in the great outdoors by a few guests who joined in with enthusiasm, and whose efforts meant we got plenty done. One of the main tasks was to clear the brambles and brush that had grown up in front of the hedge that was planted when we moved in. We were focussing on the section by our orchard, and as these before and after photos prove, there was a lot to contend with:
The team were undaunted, however, and with a combination of hand and power tools, achieved a huge amount. This photo shows perhaps a fifth of what was cleared over 4 days:
Br. Adrian’s plan, now he can actually get at the hedge, is to learn how to lay it, with the eventual aim of providing a rich and beautiful habitat. If you’d like to know more about hedgelaying, then the website of the National Hedgelaying Society is a good place to start!
In addition to clearing the hedge, another team got stuck in digging over the front lawn outside the guest wing, with the aim of turning it into a wildflower ‘lawn’.
Sr. Alison had great fun taking down one of the willow trees by the hermitage pond, with the hope of trying to keep water in the pond year round. As the vegetation around the pond has grown up, the pond has been dry for several months of the year. We’ll probably need to take out some more vegetation, but this is a beginning. The poles you can see in the photo below will be used around the estate, and the shredded branches and leaves have already gone on a path in the kitchen garden.
Not all the brush, however, could be shredded, and so Br. Stuart was able to indulge his love of a good bonfire every afternoon.
No Estate week, of course, is complete without coffee and snack time in the morning, and a group photo – we never managed to get everyone who helped together all at once, but here’s most of them:
One of our Alongsiders, Leah, originally hails from New Hampshire, USA, and when she explained that Thanksgiving as a holiday is mostly about eating lots of delicious food, we readily agreed to her plan for a festive meal to mark the occasion. She and Lindsay, with help from various other members of the community, spent a lot of time in the kitchen, culminating in a feast on Thursday 24th that included turkey parcels, green bean casserole, mashed potato and butternut squash, cornbread, and pumpkin pie and cream for dessert. Her parents also very kindly sent us a flock of chocolate turkeys, which either have been or will be enjoyed by all. I was so busy enjoying all the food that I completely failed to take a picture of any of it; I did however catch Leah in the kitchen, and also the turkeys before they were distributed:
Thanksgiving is also a time to pause and reflect on all that we have to be thankful for. Leah shared with us one of her favourite Thankgiving texts, A Litany of Thanksgiving, by Howard Thurman. (Download as pdf here). It’s a beautiful piece, and a wonderful reminder of all we have to be thankful for, even in difficult times.
Looking back just at this blog post, we as a community are thankful for all those who support and make possible our life here, whether that’s by joining us in prayer, attacking brambles or sending chocolate at just the right time We’re also grateful for the diversity within the community, and the introduction of new (to us) traditions and celebrations. We’re grateful for having such a beautiful place to live, and above all we are grateful to God for drawing us here to this place, that we might draw near to worship.