In the Palace of the Night Heron
Calumet Open Space Reserve
with Kristina Burkel, Amy Cook, Ania Greiner, Jill Huntsberger,
Clover Morell, Lani Schuster, Paula Thum,
and Gwynedd Tremblay
Photo credit: Joan Dickinson
In my experience, working outdoors changes you. If you persist, you’ll be changed. Some liken this change to being cracked open; I experience it more as seepage. In whatever way it happens, it will happen with the result being that you can never think about the world in the same way. I came to teaching this class with a question: Given the many limitations, how might a collaboration happen?
We met weekly – reading, writing, moving, and talking together. We visited the site alone and in groups. We did extensive research learning about the area’s industrial and natural history. We imagined the site, then, grappled with its reality beyond human imagination. We kept weather reports, day-specific journals, and created a collaborative text describing time, place, and individuals within a collaborative agreement. We made postcard art and sent the cards to Jennifer Monson and her company, Bird Brain Dance, as they migrated up the Mississippi River.
On the day of the formal presentation, it rained heavily. We hung out in a large van listening to Bob Marley tunes while Gwynedd Tremblay recounted his heritage as a witch. Do my students understand the class? I don’t know. But they laugh while searching for a poop free zone in which to perform a same sex wedding ceremony. They teach each other the nest laying movement. Some say they like the feel of the sun as they work.
I notice that they help each other on with their sashes.