Sunday Morning ~ Common Ground–– Falling Toward Justice
Mtengo ugwera komwe udaweramira. ~ The tree falls the way it was leaning.
~ Chewa proverb
September 22, 2019
It’s that idyllic weekend at the Common Ground Fair I spend reimagining my childhood fantasy of living on a farm, having animals to tend, drinking warm milk right from the cow, and only eating what we can forage or grow. I’ve become addicted to this fair, have made friends I know only from here, have learned more about solar panels, how to grow better radishes, and which lichen is edible. There are lectures all day on any topic related to healthy living you can imagine: blacksmithing, rug braiding, fermenting, llama raising, on and on and on. Every hour there’s a choice of fifty talks, all free and open. It’s amazing. And at night there’s a contra dance packed to the gills with people of all shapes, sizes, and ages. I sat last night and watched them, their smiles and dimples and beards and dreadlocks bouncing all over. It’s just the best.
I miss my friend Kathy. We usually do this fair together as fewer and fewer midwives are willing to sacrifice another weekend away from their families. Kathy and I love being here, so it’s worked, but she’s in Malawi carrying on with things there, and I’m grateful for that, so will tend things here until she returns. Hopefully we’ll be back here together next year chatting, knitting, speaking, educating, and reveling in the starry nights. This morning I’ll spend a couple of hours over at the social justice tent, volunteering for Betsy Sweet. I don’t see a republican presence but that’s probably because they know this isn’t their crowd. Like I said, it’s fun to be with those leaning your way, encouraging other saplings in the same direction. The rosy cheeked kids with homespun sweaters and teenagers wearing crowns of artemisia just gives me endless hope for the future.
I struggle (a little, not too much) with how to feel productive at this stage of my life and think a lot about how to blend my current priority (having free time and being happy) with contributing something to the world using skills I’ve gained. This is a common theme with many midwives my age so being at the fair and educating the public about what we do, offering help in making healthy life choices, giving tips on navigating our medical system, and supporting women considering becoming a midwife are all aspects of this weekend that make me feel productive. Lots of people stop by the table including nurses I’ve worked with in the past, old students of mine, and many women whose babies I’ve delivered. There’s a sense of joy when I remember them and their birth and we can pick right up, and others look familiar but their stories aren’t vivid in my mind. I don’t even try to pretend I remember their name. Sometimes I panic when someone comes up to me with a child who is old enough to have already won some kind of award, and says, “Remember this little one?” And my heart sinks and I think, “I don’t even remember you.” Early this morning a woman came to the booth with a two year old in her arms, beautiful baby, as they all are, with dark ringlets. The woman said, “I don’t expect you to remember me, but two years ago I was very pregnant and came to your talk here.” I instantly loved her for starting out like that. Then she said, “I was worried about telling my mother I wanted to have my baby at home and was planning a hospital birth I didn’t want and wasn’t comfortable with. You gave me a pep talk and I ended up doing what I felt most comfortable with and I had her at home and it was the most wonderful experience! And here she is!” I asked her how her mother took it? She said, “She was incredibly supportive! I never expected her to be that way but you encouraged me to advocate for myself. I just wanted to come by here to thank you. I will never forget you. Keep up the good work!” I choked up. I thanked the birth goddesses. I decided I’m coming here forever.
Love to all,