by Nisargo Troy
When the daffodils and crocuses are announcing their arrival with their vibrant colors in the otherwise still brown surroundings, the trees are budding, and people are seen in their yards with rakes in their hands and big smiles on their faces, we know that Easter is also just around the corner. This year we were graced with a gorgeous day on Easter Sunday which was duly celebrated.
Changes tend to arrive with the shift from winter months into spring. So it is not surprising that we have had a few here at Heartwood as well. One of those involved saying good-bye to one of Heartwood’s longtime residents, Laurie Lauer. It was with much sadness that we heard of her plans to leave. Laurie has been a vital part of Heartwood’s life, a strong member of the community, involved in so many important positions over the years. Her contributions will always be cherished, her laughter fondly remembered and she is sorely missed. But life called for a bigger change in her life and she is on a new adventure in her new home on four wheels.
The Friday potluck before her departure got turned into a grand party, topped by a wonderful slideshow put together by Sandy and presented to Laurie on a thumb drive so she had memories of her many years at Heartwood to keep in a format suitable for van-life. We were all so busy celebrating that nobody thought to take pictures!
As much as it was sad to see Laurie go, we are super exited about the family she sold her house to! Erika, Liam and their daughter Bexley arrived 3 weeks ago and I will let Erika speak about the experience herself.
by Erika Douglass
Nine months ago our family had the opportunity to spend one month living at Heartwood taking care of the farm animals and irrigating the fields while Jack and Ronda were traveling. We had already loved the idea of Heartwood from reading the website. We signed up to be on the P2 list, the list of potential homebuyers in the Phase 2 of Heartwood’s development, and hoped we would be lucky enough to get to buy one of the new houses. While we were here, we fell in love with everything about Heartwood. Most of all, though, the community and the people. We knew very quickly that Heartwood was where we wanted to live and raise our daughter Bexley. These are the people we want to be in community with and have be part of Bexley’s life as she grows up. There were other benefits too, the climate, living in nature, all the outdoor activities in the Durango area (Liam missed skiing a lot) and more. However, it was the people of Heartwood, more than anything else, that were what made it feel so right. We felt so at home that we were planning to come back to visit again before we even left, knowing it would probably be a few years before the new houses were ready for residents.
However, the universe decided that we would be moving to Heartwood sooner than we thought. We had become friends with Laurie while visiting and she mentioned to us that she had been considering for a while if it was time for her to move and start the next chapter of her life, but it had never felt quite right. Luckily for us, selling her home to us so we and Bexley could live here at Heartwood felt right to both her and her daughter. For those of you who don’t know, they built (by hand) the house that we now live in. Yes, we now own it, but it will always feel like Laurie’s house to us, and we feel like we will never be able to fully repay her for entrusting us with the home she built and allowing us to join Heartwood. We feel so fortunate that she gifted us this opportunity, but are also sad that we won’t get to live in community with her. Thank you, Laurie, we hope you fully enjoy the next chapter of your life, but also hope you come back to visit often.
The last nine months have been a hectic, stressful, crazy roller coaster. Between selling our house, buying Laurie’s house, moving, being in transition for a few months, and still working and raising Bexley. It’s been exhausting. But when we moved into our new home at Heartwood three weeks ago, everything just felt right and we knew it was worth it. We are still getting unpacked and settled, but have also jumped right into life at here with common meals, work parties, pickleball, working in the high tunnel and greenhouse, and going for hikes. We have said many times that we are so happy to be here and that we can already see that the life we had envisioned for our family is really coming together and happening. We look forward to our new life here and welcoming all the P2 members when they get to move in. Thank you to everyone for welcoming us to the community with open arms. We look forward to everything we will share together.
I hope your spring is filled with many positive developments, promising adventures and joyful connections!
by Nisargo Troy
Until just a few days ago you would have never thought we are only a few weeks away from Christmas. The weather was balmy enough to play pickleball on our beautiful tennis court, in shorts and T-shirts! The 7 miles of trails were still firm and dry enough for hiking and people were found gathering on front porches for coffee in the mornings. That all changed abruptly on December 7th, when the first snowstorm of the season touched down in the area and brought 7 inches of snow to Heartwood. What a beautiful sight to see after a long stretch of dry weather!
The past two months brought many opportunities to enjoy living in community. We had a lively Thanksgiving with many attending. The day began with the annual Turkey Trot, a hike around Heartwood land followed by coffee and baked goods in the common house. Much laughter, inspiring conversation and above all so much gratitude was felt by all.
As we are moving toward the upcoming holidays, individual households will be celebrating in their own unique and individual ways in their homes, honoring traditions of old and new. Candles are being lit on menorahs and advent wreaths, houses are beautified with colorful lights, and family and friends come to visit.
On solstice we are invited as a community to a fire ceremony by Tom, a wonderful tradition he has offered for many years. Bright and early at 6:30 am on December 21, we will gather at the beautiful community fire circle located on our land to celebrate the return of the sun and the shortest day of the year. This is what Tom has to say about the event:
"This time for ceremony and ritual grounds us; a time of drawing inward and grounding or anchoring our intentions. This is also a time of renewal. We can make some kind of change in our physical environment to honor the change of season and the power of the Solstice.
"We also have cause for another Celebration: raising the Totem Pole over Heartwood. It was a long time in coming, but we finally did it! Thanks Barry and Jack for setting the foundation and for Tom’s friends, Matt and Dan, who helped take it down, bring it over, and put it back up.
"The Totem Pole stands as an acknowledgement of the Spirit of the land and comes as a symbol of our deep and abiding gratitude for all that Mother Earth provides and for all that we have received."
Our celebration team has been busy planning as well!
Mimi is baking sheets of ginger bread that will be transformed into a replica of the cluster of buildings at Heartwood and then decorated by members. This has been a beloved event in the past and many are looking forward to its return. Stay posted for pictures!
On Christmas Eve we will hold our annual Posada. La posada, in Spanish literally means “the inn,” but when it refers to this Christmas tradition, it entails the reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to rest. In this year’s Posada at Heartwood we will begin with caroling around the Christmas tree on the common house terrace and then proceed to visit, and rest at, designated front porches and backyards, enjoying libations and food offerings, warming ourselves by fires along the way. A cookie and gift exchange will wrap it all up in the common house. So much fun!
We hope this letter finds you healthy and well. We wish you the best of the Holidays and a very Happy New Year!
by Nisargo Troy
Recently I went with Mimi, one of our elders at Heartwood and an exceptional cook, to our gardens to harvest some beans for the common meal she was preparing. Finding bean after bean after bean in the bushes until there was enough to feed those who had signed up for the meal was such a joy to both of us! As we slowly filled our bag, I noticed happily a few red tomatoes on the huge tomato vines. “Soon” I thought, "we will have many tomatoes to harvest. What a glorious feast that will be.”
Two days later, Sandy, an experienced gardener, who I had shared this discovery with, was sitting in front of one of those huge tomato vines turned bushes, held up by wire cages, and said, grinning, “Want to see some tomatoes?” And as I bent down I saw them, hidden from sight, deep inside the dark green cave, glowing like gems, red, juicy and beckoning to be picked and eaten. She filled a huge bowl, which was the first of many, to bring up from the garden.
I am not a gardener. I was never drawn to the bent back, sore hips and knees, sweating in the heat kind of thing that gardening was to me. Not until a pandemic slowed me down enough and gave me time to reflect upon the gift of having land available, right where I live, to grow food for and with my friends. So I joined a group of experienced growers and have become a believer! Look at that spread during our 'free famers market' at the common house! And look at the many ways the produce grown here, either in the community garden or in people's back yards, is being used. Phenomenal! I just wish I could share images of everything members have been making, but that would make this newsletter way too long.
So, here it is: a walk through Heartwood’s kitchens if you will. Enjoy!
On a recent Sunday, we celebrated the apple harvest with a large cider pressing party. Some members went out to harvest the day before, within the cluster and along county roads. The next day everyone could partake in working the press and then bottling the delicious fresh cider. Our newest members, the Madranos, are promising fermented apple cider at a common meal in a few weeks. Yum! Here are from the left: Adrian, Henry, Alana, Lincoln, Jason and Acer enjoying the fun!
The truth is, we have more than we can use of almost everything. So we share. We definitely share with each other, and we use what we can for our common meals. All of the nice, fresh produce we cannot use at Heartwood, we take to the local food share program, Pine River Shares. The damaged produce goes to the pigs, the wilted or tougher greens go to the chickens, and the skins, stems, and cores go into our compost bins.
And in winter we get to open all those jars and enjoy the taste of summer once again!
“And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart:
Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.”
― Khalil Gibran
by Nisargo Troy
Summer is a busy time here at Heartwood. People are working in their gardens, out hiking or camping or both, or sitting on the common house terrace after a meal, chatting and enjoying the cooler evening temperatures. We have been blessed with steady afternoon rains so everything is blossoming, plants and people alike. There is a steady stream of visitors, some of them finding ways of staying a little longer and having their own experiences here. Here is some of what happened at Heartwood this July.
by Sandy Thomson
This Fourth of a July we decided to celebrate Heartwood’s 21st birthday. It was just another example of “many hands make light work”. Sarah, Mimi, Gail and Maria did most of the planning. We had a big sign up chart for all the little things that needed to be done. Then each of us just took on a job or two.
Two long tables were filled with bowl after bowl of delicious food while burgers were prepared on the common house grills.
There were decorators, grill masters, beverage cooler stockers, clean up, set up, recycling and garbage crews, and games! Nancy Krebs made it to Heartwood in time to pull together some fun lawn games! We had bubble making, running with an egg on a spoon, crafts, and the ever popular egg toss.
Nisargo and Gabi were the winners of the egg toss with a 18 foot toss caught on the top level of the SS Ponderosa! But we all were winners that day because together we created something special, a fun community event with lots of laughter and connection.
by Nancy Krebs
The other day my soul was shaken to its core when walking the lower pasture I stepped into a depression and fractured my left acetabulum in two places (the socket of the hipbone). On my belly-crawling journey across the pasture to access help, I paused every few minutes to smell the alfalfa/sage/pinon-pine scents, look at the clouds, appreciate the rolling hills and watch horses graze. This beautiful land supported me in the midst of a trauma.
Ilyria, a teen trained in first aid, came running after hearing my calls for help. Her calm, professional, focused attention initiated the loving emergency response of the Heartwood community. And so began the kaleidoscope of care from Heartwood residents of all ages. Through a four hour ER visit Lyn patiently supported me until nearly midnight. A common house guest room was prepared for me as a short-term recovery room. Toddler Bexley delivered flowers. Six year-old Lincoln visited. An offer of temporary lodging sans stairs provided a longer-term safe-haven. Adults brought dinners for six nights, visited, drove me to watch pickleball and follow-up appointments, and shopped for me.
For six to eight weeks post injury I cannot drive nor walk without crutches. Absent the Heartwood community, the initial trauma and subsequent weeks of recovery would have been debilitating. Because of the Heartwood community ethos, I am supported, connected and healing.
Receiving and asking for help has been overwhelming and somewhat stressful. But the grace of residents and their consistent loving kindness, has helped me walk across the bridge of self-reliance to see the peace that one can experience – even in times of trauma – by practicing the humility of relying on others. The Heartwood community has a gargantuan amount of experience supporting folks in life’s big events. Thank you ALL!!
Pigs, Cows and Little Girls
by Erika Douglass
Thanks to Jack and Ronda’s vacation plans, our family (Liam, Erika and Bexley age 2) have had the opportunity to live in their home while taking on their role at Heartwood of caring for the animals and irrigating some of the fields. Bexley has had a wonderful time interacting with the pigs, cows, and llamas and picking bouquet after bouquet of wildflowers in the gorgeous fields while Mama and Papsie are left to do the hard work. 😉 Being able to experience living at Heartwood has made us even more excited about Phase 2 (we are on the list – fingers crossed). We’ve been able to join the happy hours, community dinners, potlucks, pickleball, hikes, and a work party and have had great stimulating conversations. While there aren’t any kids Bexley’s age, the older kids have played with her happily and everyone had been great with suggestions on activities and places to check out (like the Powerhouse Museum in Durango). It’s been a wonderful experience (except for almost stepping on a rattlesnake and cleaning up after the pigs 😉) and we hope we will be able to join the community as residents of Phase 2 (or sooner is someone wants to sell us their house 😉). Thank you to everyone here for being so welcoming and the wonderful experience. We will miss all of you when we have to leave.
By Nisargo Tro
Hello to all from a bustling, budding, greening, blooming Heartwood in full swing!
In anticipation of the approaching spring, Heartwood was ready at the end of March for a big work party after the winter. Beds were cleared of leaves, dead brush material burned to reduce the fire danger, wood gathered for fires in the fire pit on the common house porch for our weekly outdoor Happy Hours, compost turned, and the greenhouse attended to. It was a beautiful day and many hands made it fun and a lot got accomplished.
With spring in full swing, the “Garden Gaggle” with old timers from last year’s very successful growing season in the high tunnel and new members joining in, met at the end of April to plan and start the new crop for this summer. The first seeds are sprouting, tiny plants are poking their heads out, most of the beds are planted, being tended and watched over in anticipation of another year of an abundance of fresh lettuce mix, arugula, kale, chard, beets, squashes, peas, beans, kohlrabis, onions, and eventually those beautiful big and small tomatoes. We will be able to enjoy, once again, our free farmers market on the common house terrace, with donations and the overflow of veggies not utilized by members going to Pine River Shares, our local community program for those in need. The automatic watering system, which is fed by the irrigation ditch, has been turned on by now and is supplying us with ample water coming down from the mountains to keep the gardens well fed.
Also in the past month, Heartwood was blessed with receiving a huge grant for fire mitigation. Living amidst junipers, pine forests, and gamble oaks makes us vulnerable to wildfires. Heartwood members have been working diligently throughout the years around the housing cluster to reduce this danger by thinning and cutting back the highly flammable materials and growing gardens and planting deciduous trees instead. But beyond our housing cluster, we own over 350 acres of beautiful, mostly forested land, which needs fire mitigation work to create a defensible buffer around our homes. With the grant, our forests are now receiving a huge new round of mitigation work. This past week the crew, consisting of young men who sooner or later will be called to fight wildfires as well, began in the first area along Heartwood Lane. It looks amazing. The crew is selectively thinning to create safety, but are always mindful of forest health and aesthetics. It will make Heartwood so much safer once it is all done.
One family in particular is in anticipation of a very special kind. Here is what Alana Madrano wrote about her family’s journey:
As a family, we have been working tirelessly every day of the week for a couple of months to prepare our house for sale in anticipation of our move to Heartwood. While this work has been exhausting, each night as we lay our kids down to bed ,we spend time talking with them about the things we are looking forward to in our next home and community. We talk of the shared meals, the effort together in the gardens and greenhouse, the friendships we will make, the opportunity to be of service, to grow our own food, and to exist in a place of quiet peace. We talk of the stars, nighttime dips in the hot tub, and what it will mean for our family to join the Heartwood community. We talk about the greater La Plata County area and about the opportunities to adventure and see places for the first time. And as a family, we also talk about our shared belief that happiness is a choice, not a destination or situation. We don't move to Heartwood in search of our happiness, but rather to bring our happiness into a community where it can be shared and multiplied. We are very honored to be joining the Heartwood community and we live in daily anticipation of the day we move into our new home and community.
And last but not least, this past week, Southwest Colorado has been graced by beautiful continuous rains lasting for two straight days. So unusual here and so much appreciated! Now the Colorado sun is helping everything explode!
Stories collected by Sandy Thomson and Nisargo Troy
As we are moving closer and closer to the time when 14 new households will join our community, we asked a couple of Heartwood Phase 2 Associate Members and a couple current Heartwood members to reflect on their excitement about the imminent expansion of Heartwood. Here is what they wrote!
Last summer, Todd stumbled upon an article about intentional living and we went down rabbit hole of Cohousing. We spoke with a few different cohousing communities and we were blown away by the concept of living in Heartwood. For us, Heartwood is an amazing opportunity to live in for 3 main reasons: it provides social relationships for us and our children, there are chances to learn new skills, and there is an escape into nature every day.
We want to know our neighbors and make strong relationships with the people who live close to us. This is especially important for our children’s friendships so they can easily go out and play at any given time.
There are multiple opportunities to learn within the community from gardening to livestock to land management. We want to gain vital skills and to be able to give our service to the community and learn at the same time is a great way to expand our knowledge.
We also love the location of Heartwood. Not only is the community on beautiful land that can give easy hikes and adventures, but there are several amazing destinations within a few hours of Heartwood to explore.
We are excited to start our new life in Heartwood and to become a part of its community.
Todd and Jame Bushman under the tree house at Heartwood
I started to browse cohousing listings on a fairly regular basis around 2017. I narrowed my focus mainly to Colorado and the Pacific Northwest, and I can recall looking quite intently at all the pinpoints on that cohousing map in Colorado particularly those outside of Denver. In the fall of 2018, I went to Longmont to visit and hear about the developing cohousing community of Bohn, advertised as a farm and art community. It remains in development. It was useful for me to stay in that area because I got a sense of the energy and was reminded of the energy that I was seeking to leave behind in Atlanta, a bit frenzied.
As time has marched on, my desire to move away from the city and live in a cohousing situation has not abated. I became an Associate Member of Heartwood in Oct 2020.
When I visited Heartwood in early December ‘20, I was so touched by the quality of the people I met; particularly my Heartwood host, Heartwood buddy, and, really everyone. The conversations were wonderful, and maybe the word 'amazing' is appropriate. I felt very at ease, comfortable and welcomed. I can tell the relationships there are deep and familiar, like family. It was great to meet other people interested in learning things that I study, e.g., personal growth. All this is drawing me very much to live at Heartwood, including to be located in a beautiful nature filled area that offers many ways to play in the outdoors.
My creative imagination is filled with visions, such as eating in that dining room with everyone, conversations buzzing, faces animated; making a fire in the outdoor pit, laughing, hiking and skiing in snow, setting up my camera for night photography. I imagine gardening and learning from others when to plant and how to make plants happy in that mountain desert; wondering if I can learn some woodworking and to make natural wooden tables and benches; figuring out how to have studio space for art and pottery making; maybe taking care of a child or the livestock!, petting and playing with the many dogs, sitting on my back porch and looking over the quiet land with natural sounds from insects and animals.
Kristi Eide on top of the world
I’ve been asked to write 2 paragraphs about why I’m excited about P2. First, I would say I’m excited to welcome new Heartwood Members because it is good to have fresh energy, bringing aspects to Heartwood that we haven’t considered before. I’m excited to have more members here to share “the work.” To have a community that functions as well as our does, it takes work. Most of that work is wrapped up in things that I really enjoy, such as team meetings, where we share our ideas and have conversations about the topics of that team. It is important to join those teams that interest us so we have the opportunity to share our knowledge and energy and add to the deepening of what we create here. I’m very excited to share community with others that seek their own growth through learning about themselves via the reflection of their neighbors. I want to know more people that are open to exploring how we can contribute in a good way to the larger whole by seeking to connect in community.
I can’t write about what excites me without also expressing being a bit leery. Having 14 households join us all at once also brings concerns of how do we incorporate so many people at one time? We have our trials and tribulations at Heartwood along with the joys. Those exist today. In my opinion, the trials are pathways to growth and they do not overpower the immense gifts of living here. Do these new potential members understand that living the way we do here is “The most expensive, longest, self-improvement workshop,” available at this time on the planet? This is a fact. I so look forward to sharing what we have created here at Heartwood with those that want inner growth. And from one who was a co-creator of Heartwood, there is absolutely no way of understanding what this means until you’ve lived here for a time. How do we keep the essence of Heartwood and incorporate a plethora of new energy?
I’m believing that those currently in the Phase 2 queue also have the deepest desire to connect. That outweighs the trepidation and has me looking forward to the time when we are all Heartwood and Phase 1 and Phase 2 no longer define our relationship.
One of our Happy Hours on the Heartwood terrace. Lyn is in front on the right.
I am sitting in my living room early on a Sunday morning sipping my coffee as I watch the sun create light on the pinions and scrub oaks at the back of the property. The sky is a clear deep blue, and I enjoy the colors and shadows that play off each of my neighbors homes as the day begins. There is so much beauty to behold right out my window, and I am so grateful to be here. I have been asked to reflect on what excites me about the next phase of Heartwood, also known as Phase 2, and to me that includes sharing a bit about my own recent experience.
When I think about the expansion of Heartwood, I love the idea of discovery that others will experience. Some come in with a good idea of what it means to live in and co-create community and to others, like me, it is new. What seems to be in common is the desire for something more meaningful or different in their lives and a connection to others that only intentionally choosing to live in community can bring. I know that looks different for each person. Everyone brings their own talents, abilities, desires, hopes and fears. That is exciting to me.
In my own choosing to live in community, it has been a journey into deeper understanding of myself and given me opportunities to gain an understanding of my judgements, reactions, and learning new ways of being in the world. My intention is to grow in my ability to take a step back, listen more carefully, try to understand others and equally bring what I have to offer forward. For me, living at Heartwood allows me to experience growth on a daily basis, and to be honest, some of it isn’t easy. I am blown away so often by the depth and the ability of my neighbors to have hard conversations, go to a deeper level and share the wisdom they bring and enrich my life. I am excited for others to join the community and how we can learn from each other.
One of the things that I am very grateful for is the shift in priorities that I have experienced in choosing to live at Heartwood. Before moving here I lived in a beautiful home in the mountains west of Boulder, Colorado. It was my dream home and spent 20 years redoing the entire house. I thought that I would be never leave there and even thought I would be buried in the yard along with the various pets. But that has shifted for me. I really like the house we are in, but it is not my dream house, and I just don’t need that anymore. What has become more important to me is living in community, greeting my neighbors who say 'welcome home' as I pull my cart of groceries to the front door or return from a trip. I am excited to have new neighbors to greet at the common house or when getting the mail or out on a trail. I often say to myself how lucky I am, and I can’t believe I get to live here, I am excited for others to have that feeling too
Proud work party participants - before Covid. KJ is standing, third from the right.
What's Currently Available at Heartwood?
We don't currently have any homes available for sale or rent, but we are moving ever closer to building 14 new homes in Phase 2. We plan to break ground in the spring of 2022 with move-ins by the end of the year. Click here to learn more about Heartwood's Phase 2. Click here to learn about becoming a Phase 2 Associate Member.
by Mac Thomson
Every spring we gather for our annual retreat in a spirit of celebration, renewing and deepening connection, and growth. Like everyone else, we had to modify our plans this year and held our retreat on Zoom this past weekend. Even though the setting was different, the results were the same – lots of laughter, some tears, and an ever deeper appreciation for each other and the special community that we share.
We always kick off our retreat with a slideshow of the past year's community highlights. I found myself so pleasantly surprised as I watched the slideshow on Friday night to see so much joy and connection even though we've had to curtail many of our most cherished community events: common meals, potluck dinners, Sunday brunches, Heartwood's 20th anniversary party, Thanksgiving dinner, New Year's Eve party, and so much more. And yet, community members rallied to come up with new Covid-compliant gatherings or reinvent our traditional gatherings.
Click here to go to Heartwood's homepage where you'll find our 2020 Slideshow: Connection in the Time of Covid. (Look in the right sidebar just below the Covid update.)
Sarah, Beth, Renee, and Tom sharing a laugh during one of our breakout sessions at our annual retreat this past weekend.
During one of our sessions, we were invited to remember back to when we were each on the verge of moving into Heartwood and then write and share a short haiku-like poem describing our vision of our soon-to-be life in Heartwood. Here's a small sampling..
Safe place for our children to grow
The best kind of life
For me and my wife and son
If we get there we won
Looking for and finding a Home
harried mother of two,
needing sleep and desperate for community,
for some kind of tribe,
for a place to belong,
a place to grow
Big sky, simple life
Looking for a home to grow
You are home
Spring arrived just in time for our retreat. Thanks to temps in the 50's and plenty of sunshine, we were able to enjoy outdoor meals together. We also took advantage of our long lunch break to go for a trail walk with a neighbor as another opportunity for connection and friendship.
Stories collected by Sandy Thomson
The holidays this year are going to look a little different around here at Heartwood! Normally we have lots of fun get-togethers (see our previous holiday newsletters: Happy 2019! from January 2019 and Ringing in the New Year! from January 2020). This year will be more private, more personal. I thought it would be fun to talk to a few people and find out what they are doing to make the holidays special.
Maria, Clint, and Lincoln
For Maria, Clint, and Lincoln, the holidays started with the harvesting of their first Christmas tree from Heartwood land.
From Lincoln - 5 years old
We started looking for a Christmas Tree in the Heartwood forest. I was with my Mommy and my Dada and we brought a saw. We decided to split up and I got a little lost, but I could still hear Dada’s voice so it was ok. We went all the way to the top of the mountain but we didn’t find the right kind of tree up there - just other kinds of trees and cactuses. I took a break and laid down on a rock, but I got a little cactus stuck in my shirt. I got it out all by myself. It didn’t even hurt! Then we went down the mountain and that’s when Mommy found the perfect tree! It was stuck between two other trees that needed room to grow and it was as tall as Dada’s hand when he reaches up high. I mostly cut it down all by myself with just a little bit of help!
It was fun and it made me feel so happy. But then, at home, we found out Mommy was allergic to the tree! She put on the lights and then got all itchy and her arms were covered in dots. Me and Dada finished decorating the tree while Mommy watched and drank some wine. I put on my favorite ornament - a star piñata. That was such an awesome tree adventure!
Julie & Scott
For their family, the holiday season begins tonight, the first night of Chanukah.
As a child, Chanukah was always a very simple holiday, but filled with warmth and love. We would light the candles each night for eight nights and sing the Hebrew prayer.
We then opened one gift for each night. These gifts were small items or tokens, but on the last night we usually got a more substantial gift. I wanted to pass on this holiday and tradition to our girls. I was gifted the menorah we had as I grew up and each year lit the candles of the menorah that was placed on the windowsill. The girls would open their present and we’d play games they loved. Some years we played dreidel. I would also sometimes make latkes (potato pancakes) or matzo ball soup. I’ve enjoyed picking out special gifts for the girls. Although we were not a religious family and my girls don’t really identify as Jewish, either spiritually or culturally, I wanted them to have some connection to the traditions and hold a deep respect for their ancestors.
Nisargo and KJ
For Nisargo and KJ Christmas Eve is a special night.
In our house we follow a German custom I brought with me from my country of origin. We put up our tree just shortly before Christmas, keep it up until January 6th (Epiphany) and light real candles on it. They sit in specially designed candle holders which are balanced on the branches by a weight below each one and are burning while we sit by the tree watching the light create magic in the otherwise dark room. Traditionally they are lit the first time on Christmas Eve. When the kids were all bathed and in their new PJ's, we would sit around the tree and tell or read stories until bedtime. Upon successful tucking in, we, the parents, would immediately disappear into the basement and wrap the last presents (or all, depending on the year) and stuff them under the tree, trying to make no noises in the dark.
I do believe that Christmas Eve has a special place in all our hearts because of the ritual of the first lighting of the candles on our tree.
As you can see, the holidays are a special time here. A time to reflect, carry on traditions, and gather with close family. This year especially, it is a time to remember what is important and what brings us joy and gratitude. So stay home for the holidays and be with your loved ones. Sometimes slowing down and enjoying the simple things is the best gift of all.
Ho ho, ha ha, have a happy Holiday!
Stories of how we are growing, collected by Nisargo Troy
Clint and Maria Miller
We have taken our time in our journey to Heartwood. Ten years ago, Maria taught students at Animas High School in Durango that piqued her curiosity. These young ladies were articulate, fun, bright, outdoorsy, confident, and just… really special. Maria knew their sparkle had a lot to do with where they came from - Heartwood Cohousing. As we grew in our lives, moved about, and finally grew our family, we found ourselves eager to experience cohousing as an alternative to the same ol' Anytown lifestyle. Luckily, two years back, we were able to dip our toes in the waters here by subletting the basement apartment of the house we now call home! What we thought would take two months of consideration took two days. We said YES, to cohousing, YES, to Heartwood! Friendly folks, smiles, the great outdoors, sharing food, and conversation made for a great connection that we missed for the following years as we saved up and strategized on how to get back where we belong. The stars aligned and somehow everything worked out so that our family's dream of raising our 5-year-old son, Lincoln, here was realized. We feel like Heartwood's multigenerational cohousing dream to once again have young children romp the paths and command the SS Ponderosa playground was realized too. It fills our hearts to the tippy-top to watch this “new crop” of kiddos build the next generation of Heartwood kid culture. Grateful, thankful, lucky, blessed, we are so happy to be here!
Megan and Eric Sanctuary
Eric and I had an “idea” about cohousing before we even had children. The only problem was that we didn’t know exactly what we were looking for. We knew we wanted a community, close friends that we could rely on, and a sense of belonging. After we had twins, we realized that this was more than a want. We needed support, advice, wisdom, and cooperation. We needed a safe place where our kids could run free without worry or helicoptering. We needed them to grow up surrounded by people who care about them. Driving up the gravel road, seeing the lush pastures, and smelling the sweet air, we knew that we found someplace special. After talking with the people and getting to know the property, we were fairly certain that this was where we needed to be.
But really, it was our two-year-olds who made the decision. They have been so happy since we arrived here that we couldn’t bear to leave! They have other kids of all ages to play with. They can learn from the wisdom of multiple generations of cohousers. They will gain an appreciation of nature and where their food comes from. They will have so many more opportunities than we could possibly provide for them on our own.
At the end of the day, we will put down roots here and experience the ups and downs of life in community. This is the way people are meant to live: together. We finally found what we were looking for. It takes a village, and now we have one. But our journey to Heartwood doesn’t end here. In fact, it’s just beginning.
Jammy Sebree and Adrian Tillery
On June 30th six new people, one dog and one cat came to #17 – Heartwood. We are a loud, loving, constantly on-the-go bunch. Sometimes the house has all of us at once, sometimes there are a couple kids and a mom during the day and just the adults at night and other times (the most fun….) we have all six humans talking, laughing, needing each other’s attention and affection or trying to find a place to read or just be.
Adrian is our most outgoing and social soul. He loves to help people and has made a career out of just that. He listens to all of us and offers his insight, humor, kindness and his opinions…..whether we ask for them or not. We all agree, life is just better when he is around.
Savanna’s smile brings joy to our world. She is smart and sarcastic with a biting wit, she loves fiercely and is a wonderful, loyal daughter, sister and friend. She is an artist with wonderful talent sketching, painting playing the piano and now a new cello. She spends most of the days with her mom during the pandemic, but she and her sister Harper split their time between mom Jammy and dad Rob who lives in Durango.
Harper exudes personality and changes her accent on a weekly basis. She is an actress and enjoys singing and making everyone laugh. Harper pushes her sister Savanna and mom Jammy to be more social….if there is a gathering or party, she wants to be there!
Josephine is the little empath, dancer and singer. She also loves animals very much, she is so excited to be part of Heartwood. She will probably offer to watch your kiddos or your animals!
Henry is the youngest and only boy around 3 other girls. He likes to be with other kids or is just as at home playing with animals (he loves to sing to Nelly our cat), as building legos and jumping on the trampoline. He has a lot of energy, but can seem shy at first. Once you get to know him, he opens up and has a fun sense of humor.
And last is Jammy. According to Adrian, “I can’t describe how much Jammy is our rock. She keeps us all going, motivated and having fun. She cares so much and is one of the best listeners alive. She is lively and her eyes light up every time she smiles. “
So there we are….the newbies at #17 Heartwood. We are so excited to be together and to join a safe and inclusive community where people are allowed to shine in their own way.
Covid and Heartwood's Plans to Reopen
Like everyone else, we've sadly had to curtail most of our social activities because of Covid. At this time we have begun our slow, staged reopening. We are currently receiving daytime visitors, and our two guests rooms are available for overnight visitors, with clear sanitation guidelines. Our indoor community meals are suspended, but social gatherings on the common house porch with social distancing, including a potluck on Wednesdays and Happy Hour on Fridays, are in full swing again. Since the unfolding of this pandemic is still so fluid, please contact us and/or see our Plan a Visit page for the latest updates, should you want to come see us!
by Zoe Curzi
When my partner Varvara and I arrived at Heartwood on March 1st this year, we expected to spend four weeks on a work/housing exchange feeding llamas and cows, hanging out in Number 4 while its inhabitants went on vacation, and maybe taking a dip or two in the hot tub before jaunting off to Europe for the warm season.
You might be able to predict that our plans were disrupted.
Neither my partner nor I currently have a stable home. She and I are (between us) filmmakers, actors, writers, musicians, and travelers. We came to Heartwood because I mentioned to a friend that I was craving nature and animals, and he knew a guy who knew a guy. We live frugally, shrug a lot, and take what comes.
As the world began shutting down in late March and our departure date approached, we didn’t quite know what we would do with ourselves. My twenty-seventh birthday saw me serving cake with a mask and gloves to one person at a time on the porch as folks hurried home again, full of regrets at our inability to party (and, amazingly, though they’d only known me for three weeks at this point, flowers, cards, and small gifts).
But within a week of this, the Heartwood community had mobilized to propose an exchange for our continued stay as Heartwood’s very own pandemic refugees; we would continue caretaking Jack and Ronda’s llamas and cattle where necessary, contribute our youthful vigor to the individuals’ gardens and community work days of Heartwood, and, in exchange, stay in the guest room, doing our best to keep the Common House sanitized for whatever minimal community use it still might hold.
The degree of exchange that has actually happened, given the simplicity of this arrangement, is pretty amazing to me.
We found ourselves rapidly involved in the community here, participating regularly in llama packing training, irrigating the pastures, watering the high tunnel’s wonderful vegetable gardens, and work parties and odd jobs for different community members.
I came here after a tough couple years in a fairly toxic community, and it’s not an understatement to say Heartwood renewed my faith in humans. Between the sacred Fire Circles Tom holds, early morning Wisdom Circles, and surprise in-depth encounters in the mailroom, I found myself engaged in a stream of amazingly meaningful and thought-provoking conversations. The energy, spirituality, practicality, generosity and wisdom of the community completely took my breath away. Not to mention that encountering such healthy, engaged, awake older adults—seventy- and eighty-year-olds pondering “what is next in my life?” just like I am-- is relieving and somehow wonderful.
I was gratified to see traces of the work – both practical/logistical and interpersonal/intrapersonal – that undergirds a place of such flourishing and intention. These people are people, just like people everywhere – but they are people with an unusual commitment to working out conflict, discussing power structures, navigating complex systems in order to accomplish ambitious tasks, and above all, manifesting what they want. I’m sure, like in any community, folks have their gripes and struggles. But I’m not sure those at Heartwood are even totally aware of how unusual and astonishing it is for a group of people to commit and succeed with such a broad set of variables – social, physical, environmental, individual, spiritual, and so on.
It’s turned out to be healing and delightful to stay at Heartwood, and to watch the community adapt to these bizarre times. I’m looking forward to the next few months before we finally do push off on our next adventure, and am already anticipating wonderful visits in the future.
Covid and Heartwood's Plans to Reopen
Like everyone else, we've sadly had to curtail most of our social activities because of Covid. But we are now beginning to plan our staged reopening. We are currently receiving daytime visitors, but no overnight guests in the common house. Our community meals are suspended, but outdoor social gatherings with physical distancing are happening. We hope to begin welcoming use of our guest rooms in July. In the meantime, you can find accommodations in Durango and Bayfield if you'd like to visit before our guest rooms reopen. Because this is all so fluid, please contact us and/or see our Plan a Visit page for the latest updates.
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