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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