Wednesday, March 31, 2021

National Cohousing Open House Saturday April 24th 2 to 4 pm

How long has it been since you were invited to an Open House when you didn't see 'in-person' and certainly not 'virtual'?

On April 24, you’re invited (in person!) to join Elderberry and seven other cohousing communities in this area of North Carolina. When you visit we’ll introduce you to our members and show you what it’s like to live in our particular community.

What will you see at Elderberry?

You will visit our Common House, the central hub of our community, and stroll around our eighteen townhomes.

You can visit the gardens and woodshop, walk the trails, and sit on the cabin porch – talking with the men and women who live here.

With sustainably-built homes and buildings, our community values being energy conscious

And by visiting the other cohousing communities in this area, you will have a unique opportunity to see how they differ.

Compared to other communities...

Elderberry is the most rural — 

out under the stars and surrounded by woods. But though we’re country, we’re connected by an easy and scenic drive to all the attractions of Durham and Raleigh.

Elderberry has the fewest homes —

at 18 homes clustered in duplexes and quadraplexes, we are a close-knit community who work, play and talk together with ease.

Elderberry has the largest acreage to enjoy — 

we have 10 acres of our own for recreation and gardens, but we share well over 100 acres of woodland trails with our sister community Potluck Farms next door.

Elderberry is totally self-developed and governed —

and we enjoy working on a variety of projects and doing most of the maintenance ourselves at our twice-monthly work days.

What do you have to do?

Let us know if you’d like to come on Saturday, April 24 between 2 and 4.*

E-mail Karolyn at or call 336-364-0056, or go to the “Contact Us” page on this website.*

Observe our Covid guidelines. 
Of our 20 members here, 16 are happily vaccinated. However for everyone’s protection, we still prefer masks and spatial distancing with visitors, and we continue to adhere to current CDC and NC guidelines for Covid-19.

Plan to ask us as many questions as you can think of about life in cohousing!

*And if you can’t make it on 4/24, contact us to arrange a Zoom or in-person visit at a convenient time.

We do look forward to seeing you on April 24 or at a time that's good for you!

Friday, March 19, 2021

Search Party!!!

 It has been challenging to have social events at Elderberry during Covid, but we have been very creative!  A few weeks ago we had our annual Chinese New Year celebration.... we all made Chinese foods, but we couldn't eat together, so we had the dinner event (and shared our fortunes from the homemade fortune cookies) on Zoom.  This past weekend we had our first potluck together in a year!  It was a Saint Patrick's Day outdoor party and is deserving of its own blog post (watch this space!).  In between those two events, we launched a program we call Elderberry Jam.

The idea behind Elderberry Jam is to ongoingly foster relationship-building in the community.  The Culture Committee solicited ideas from members about events, formats and discussion topics that they would find fun, interesting or thought-provoking.  Armed with this information we held out first Elderberry Jam event - a Search Party!

Prior to the event, the Culture Team had taken photos of discrete objects all around the 10 acres of Elderberry property.  Near each object was a word.  Teams of two had about 40 minutes to search the grounds to find the items shown in the photos (14 in all), collect the words, and try to form them into a sentence.
Vonda, Mary and Joyce gave instructions to the teams and sent them on their way.  At the bottom of their form, each team was also asked to rate how much fun they had, and how much assistance they gave to other teams.
Things started off a bit competitively but before long, teams were teaming up!

Nancy (in red) wasn't able to get around the grounds, but she sat quite close to two of the clues and gave hints to all the teams.
Stewart and Mary Kay found another word!

Stewart, Mary Kay, Joan, Karen and Jacquie all teamed up (little Minnie helped too)

After finding all of the words, Barb and Karolyn are trying to figure out the sentence, which answered the question "How do we find what we are looking for in life?"

We teamed Diane with Richard, because Diane is our newest resident and had little idea of where to find the objects in the photos,  and Richard pretty much knows every inch of Elderberry, so he could find most of the objects easily.  Even he was stumped on a few, though!

When we were all done, we had some special treats.  Vonda had bought Locopops (great popsicles from a local place) and Linda made fruit cups.  We also had prizes.... not just for those who found the most objects and words, but also for those who found the least, and those who had the most fun, and those who helped other teams the most!

It turned out that everyone loved this event.  Not only was it a fun game, but people had to explore the whole community and get some good exercise to boot!  And the answer to the question of "How do we find what we are looking for in life?"   If you unscrambled the words, you come up with:

By welcoming new experiences, trusting our hearts, opening our minds,
and appreciating diverse views.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

The Adventures of Iron Man

 What happens when your grandson hands you his most favorite, precious toy, Iron Man, to keep you company as you head to the beach? You create a beach adventure!

It had been over a year since I had an opportunity to spend unmasked time with some very old friends (our friendship is old — and, well, we are old too!) on a trip to the beach.

We all strictly quarantined for two weeks before arriving. For me, this involved separating from my friends at Elderberry and removing myself from a quarantine bubble with my grandkids. 

Saying goodbye to 5-year-old Evey and 6-year-old Miles was hard. There would be no hugs for many weeks (once out of their bubble I would have to quarantine to return to my grandkids’ bubble). They live on Elderberry Lane, a stone’s throw from our community, and are a regular part of my life.

As I was saying goodbye, Miles handed me Iron Man. He told me he wanted me to have Iron Man at the beach to keep me company.

Baba (grandma aka Mary) dressed for our first cold day on the beach. 
Iron Man decided to brave the weather without a jacket or a hat. 
“Well, I am Iron Man you know!”

Did you know Iron Man was a lifeguard when he was a kid? 
He and Riley (Mary’s sweet old dog) made sure everyone kept safe. 
“Sorry, no body surfing today!”

Don’t we all just love getting our feet buried in sand? 
Even if they’re just tiny little Iron Man feet?

Iron Man is such a tourist, collecting and even wearing sea shells. 
“Hey, I need pockets. I don’t have any pockets!”

Maybe time for just one last selfie before we leave? 
“Wait, my arms are too short!”

We’re back at the beach house, happy, tired and covered in sand. 
“Hey, does anyone smell wet dog in here?”

Iron Man and Barb play a friendly game of cribbage. 
“Yes, and no one got skunked this time!”

Now this is an Iron Man-sized drink! 
“Watch me pop this can with one finger!”

Today, a visit to the Veggie Wagon, and Iron Man assists. 
“The ladies will have hot chocolate. I’ll have a great local brew!”

“Forget my figure! I’m coming back for thirds on everything!”

“I’m sitting on top of the world! 
Ruler of all the sweets I can eat!” 

Iron Man loves health food stores. 
“Someday I might even visit one!”

Iron Man likes practical-minded souvenirs.
“Do you think Evie and Miles would like a koozie?”

“I know, I’m underage, but everyone tells me I look 25. 
Hope the sales person doesn’t check IDs!”

I don’t like vegetables. I love vegetables! 
They come is so many cool colors and shapes, you might not see me. 
“Let’s thank all the gardeners among us!”

“Home again! How about a healthy smoothie from those 
vegetables? Life isn’t all about chocolate and pastries and brew, 
although I might reconsider.”

Snuggle bunnies. 
“Thanks for a wonderful adventure, Baba!”

Miles and Evey loved the daily photos Mary sent, and their parents said 
“Now everyone is jealous of Iron Man!” 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

2021 - Looking Back; Looking Forward

2020 is certainly a year we will all remember.  At Elderberry, the year began with the death of a very beloved member, Dick Bennett, who died after fighting cancer for over a year.  He died at home, with Elderberry members able to share time with him in his last days.

Dick Bennett cut nearly every tongue-and-groove board for the beautiful ceiling of our common house (which we built ourselves)

Only days after the memorial service, the news of Covid became real for us all, and changed the way we lived in community this year.  Gone were the group meals, the hugs in passing, the meetings and events in our common house, and - worst of all - the parties.  We are great at throwing parties at Elderberry!  But in spite of the loss of a sweet member, the pandemic, and the craziness of the elections, we learned to have fun together and support one another in different ways.  Our creativity paid off!  We feel like we have gotten through this year surprisingly well as a community, and now we even feel like we can have some fun on Zoom calls!

Some of the creative ways we have stayed connected in 2020.......

We started by making over 60 masks for our members and neighbors outside of Elderberry!

We continued to have workdays, figuring out how to work together at a distance but still be close enough to talk.

We also continued to have our Monday morning coffee on the log cabin porch - just spread out a bit more.

We played outdoor games that allowed us to keep social distance.... like croquet.

We had a great 4th of July party, playing games and making S'mores - at a distance!

  Some members went kayaking together but in separate kayaks (the perfect socially-distanced sport!)

Others figured out how to play on-line games together, like cribbage and pinochle.

We continued to renovate our old log barn and log cabin - plenty of ways for people to work on those projects without getting too close.

We held a silent auction (in our common house over the course of a week) and raised over $1600 for our local food pantry.

We've had walks together, including silent, meditative walks, in our beautiful woods, at a distance.

We had a great Bingo game and a poetry reading outdoors - with participants sitting socially distanced (except couples!) out in our central area.

We continued to have trail workdays, and had a major workday when a huge tree fell across one of our creeks, obliterating two of our trails!

We had a solstice bonfire - so big that people had to stand back enough to be distanced - and a lighted labyrinth for a night-time solstice meditation.

We had Zoom potlucks and Zoom bookclubs, and Zoom yoga and all kinds of Zoom meetings.  We're now planning Zoom cooking parties and Zoom dance parties and Zoom discussion groups and Zoom games.  We're Zooming right along!

And all through the year, we stepped outdoors onto our porches or our pedway every evening at sunset to wish one another goodnight.

And 2021?  Well, at today's monthly business meeting we brainstormed loads of new ideas for how to continue to connect and have fun together in 2021.  At today's workday, we worked together on a new path to the back door of our common house, did maintenance on our other paths, and continued renovation work on our old log barn.

And this afternoon, we planted a new oak tree to replace a very old one (over 100 years old) that we had to have cut down due to disease.  As as we did that dedication today, we circled back to the beginning of this crazy year, when we lost our dear member, Dick Bennett..... and we dedicated the tree to him.  It was a beautiful start to our new year.

Richard dedicates the new tree today, with members spread out across the common area to listen