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 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!)
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