David had some vacation time giving us a long weekend from Thursday evening through Sunday, so we took the chance to play in Goshen, Mishawaka and on a little road trip to Bloomington. Fun times, indeed! Here were some of the highlights, beginning with the Elkhart County 4H Fair (David gets free passes from work, so we usually go for one short evening each year). Most people go to the Fair for food and fun. We go for the portal doors and fairy houses:
We walked around, visited some goats and gave much needed Reiki to the magnificent stallions kept in barely large enough pens for show. 😦 That part was very sad, but the horses always enjoy and appreciate Reiki at the Fair, so I make it a point to stop by and offer calm and healing to them whenever we go there. On a lighter note, we looked through the hall of crafts made by young people. We agreed upon this year’s favorite cake:
I spent Friday shin deep in basil, prepping pesto for Saturday’s Lammas/Lughnasadh feast in the GANG Garden at Ann Kreilkamp’s Bloomington ecopod:
Since this is the first harvest celebration on the Wheel of the Year, I made foods featuring as much garden produce as I could. Instead of quinoa pasta for the pesto, I opted for spiralized patty pan squash “raw pasta.” The patty pan squash pictured below fit perfectly into our spiralizer, just trimming off the top and bottom. Others needed extra cutting around the knobs in order to fit. On the whole, though, I found the patty pan squash far preferable to spiralized zucchini, in ease, texture and color. This variety will no doubt become a new regular in our garden:
I also harvested cucumbers to cut right before the feast and mix with our friend Sunny’s kimchee blend. She serves cucumber kimchee at her restaurant, and we love it!
I ended up bringing lots of p’s and “cu”‘s: pickles, pesto, pasta, and cucumbers. Mmmm …
Friday evening we met a friend in Mishawaka, then got an early start for Bloomington on Saturday morning. Attempting to streamline hotel choices, I had looked up “vegan bed and breakfasts” in Bloomington, figuring they, of all places, might have one. Indeed, they do! Well, it’s gluten-free vegan friendly and run by vegetarians who appreciate organic food. The quaint little Persimmon Inn is right in downtown Bloomington and ended up being one of the least expensive of the nicer reviewed hotel options online.
The Persimmon Inn
We loved all the woodwork, from the entry piece proclaiming “Blessings of Good Health” to a huge, carved chair, to unique wall pieces in the breakfast nook. We rented the “Dogwood Room,” their smallest room, since we only intended to crash there, having pretty much nonstop plans during our time in Bloomington. It was small, but very cute and clean, with a nice bathroom and vintage details, perfect for our needs on this trip. If we had intended to spend more time in the actual room, we might have opted for the “Paw Paw” or another, larger “tree” room:
Dogwood Room at Persimmon Inn
It was so lovely to find organic kiwi, blueberries and mango, almond milk, gluten-free oatmeal, rooibos tea, and other organic and vegan yummies at breakfast! Sue, one of the owners, told us that normally they’d have fresh gluten-free vegan pastries from the corner bakery; however, it happened to be closed on this particular visit. Nonetheless, it felt like a treat to have a variety of clearly marked options amidst the more usual breakfast fare. Paul and Sue feel it’s worth the extra expense to serve fresh, organic and special-diet friendly foods and beverages to their guests. We certainly appreciated it!
After checking in, David and I explored downtown Bloomington for awhile before heading over to Ann’s for a tour and prep for our little Wheel of the Year ceremony. We found a metaphysical shop (sorry, I forget which one!), where a particular Tarot deck caught my eye and continued to draw be back to it from different parts of the store. “Tarot De Las Luces Encantadas,” it said, and I thought, “Wow, I might need to brush up on my Spanish lessons, but I seriously doubt Pimsleur covers Tarot terms! I can say, ‘¿Donde esta el bano?,’ but that’s hardly preparation for a Spanish Tarot deck!” And yet … everywhere else I went in the store, I kept coming back to this one, specific deck.
I finally picked it up, and when I turned it over, the other side said in English, “Fairy Lights Tarot.” Well, then, that explained it! I bought the deck and the dragonfly bag it wanted to live in. I played around with the cards last night and decided this is my new, very, very favorite deck ever:
Feeling very faery, I continued to wander around with David, who snapped this photo that encapsulates the “blooming” in Bloomington:
By then, we needed to hustle over to Ann‘s for our much anticipated GANG Garden tour and to prepare for the ritual I was apparently leading. LOL! Good thing I keep my mini Pagan Cats Tarot cards on hand for quickie altars. The Aces do a wonderful job anchoring the directions, and I love using the potent symbolism of Tarot to represent whatever energies of the Season we wish to celebrate and/or invoke. In this case, I opted for the Sun card on one side of the bouquet and the Nine of Pentacles on the other — a celebration of Light and the Earth’s bountiful harvest. We added the beeswax Venus de Willendorf I’d just gifted Ann — homemade in Elkhart County — along with an altar cloth from Peru, a Goddess from Crete, a crystal from Ann’s late husband, Jeff, some candles and magical sound makers for creating sacred and meditative space.
We held the ceremony in the GANG Garden — an amazingly productive, verdant community space Ann and others have created for their neighborhood. Since this point of the year emphasizes harvest, as part of the ceremony, I asked each person to share, briefly, about seeds they had planted (perhaps long ago) that they’ve recently begun to harvest, either physically or metaphorically. Some people shared that for them, they felt they were Fall sowing their own seeds while appreciating what others have sown before them. Others shared some challenges amidst the gratitude. Ann and I both celebrated the community we’ve sown in our respective places and how Goshen and Bloomington communities have now ritually joined. They also joined with gifts — me giving Ann the Venus of Willendorf, and Ann gifting me a “Dahlia” garden statue. It’s a life-sized whirligig she found on a super sale, so we have matching Dahlias and matching Venus’s.
After the short ceremony, we gathered and joined with others for a first harvest potluck. Look at this amazing spread of fresh food!
We so enjoyed exploring all the in process projects happening at the ecopod, from hugelkultur beds to pathways to creative indoor renovations and community spaces. Even more, though, we loved connecting with Ann and her tribe. What a diverse array of ages, ethnicities, interests and talents! Children through grandparents attended, along with people visiting from overseas. All were welcomed, and everyone brought something valuable to share — their stories, their food, their experiences. At Ann’s and other guests’ encouragement, David and I followed the gathering by doing a “quintessential” Bloomington thing of attending an art showing, which was musically accompanied by the multi-talented young farmer who also made us a bottle of cherry mead. We then explored a bit more of downtown Bloomington before heading to bed and beginning anew the following day, when Ann had arranged for us to meet with her son, Colin Cudmore, inventor of international award winning Garden Tower Project.
We met with Colin at his warehouse and got to look at his (truly!) ingenious designs for not only the Generation 2 Garden Tower Project, which we brought home for assembly, but also for a high end 80-gallon garden composter and greenhouse prototypes for covering, shading and/or protecting the Garden Towers from cold and other elements. David kept saying how much he appreciates that Colin “overbuilds everything,” noting the quality of materials, design and craftsmanship. We spoke of Will Allen, who has consulted with Colin on making some of his projects even more efficient and beneficial, but generally, Ann, David and I just marveled at Colin’s genius. Seriously, he’s got it going on! We left with not only a Gen 2 Garden Tower for the yard of the Blue House, but also Colin’s gift of just the right soil mixture to fill it. I feel immense gratitude to Colin, not only for his generosity to us, but also to the planet. His dedication to finding ways to help people of all classes, abilities, sizes and locations to feed themselves and their communities is both humbling and inspiring.
Laura Bruno, Colin Cudmore, and Ann Kreilkamp at the Garden Tower Project warehouse
I’ll leave you with a final photo that pretty much epitomizes Ann’s and my time together — connecting on many levels at once from the very spiritual, right down to the most practical, grounded and physical realities, laughing all the way:
Laura Bruno and Ann Kreilkamp
Thanks to Ann and everyone in Bloomington for your hospitality and friendship, and thanks to David for all of the clearly focused photos (the others are mine, LOL!), for driving and for taking the time for the lovely little road trips, near and slightly farther away. ♥