It’s funny how things come full circle. This morning, walking to the farm with my cabinmates, I was struck by the tendency of time to take us back to the same old places, no matter where else it might flow in between. Pulling the farm cart down the drive in the predawn light, I was transported back to our first morning here, when the first rays of the sun illuminated a similar scene: sleepy Orchard girls, clad in overalls, dragging a cart of compost down a dusty road.
Things are different now, though. For one, there were only six of us this December morning. Many steps behind us, Kendall and Emily still lay slumbering in their beds, savoring their last few moments of sleep before the morning bell rang. Since the meat chickens are now dead, there are no longer enough chores for eight girls to do on the farm in the mornings. So, only Dreme, Jamie, Corey, Mia, Natalie, and I make the long morning trek, while Emily and Kendall weave in the upstairs of the Allen Center, connected to us by the sheep’s wool with which they work the looms.
This is not the only thing that has changed, however. As we turned the corner, and made our way through the maintenance sheds, I was reminded of something Ursula K. LeGuin once said: “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged, to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” This phrase seemed to fit the situation perfectly. Save for a few things—our reduced numbers, the nip of frost in the air, the fact that Natalie bore a headlamp on top of her bright orange hunting cap—the morning walk was barely different from those left far back in the dwindling days of August. Yet we—the six of us, and the two back in the cabin—were changed. No longer were we strangers. Instead, a comfortable atmosphere hung around us, like a golden glow. Then, we walked together as assigned partners, tentative comrades, joined by four wooden walls that just happened to house the eight of us. Now, we walk together as family. I don’t know how this happened, exactly: we have never been as openly affectionate as Ranch House, or as crazy as Gordy. Yet slowly and steadily, we have formed unshakable bonds of trust, respect, and fondness, the likes of which I have never yet experienced. No matter what happens over the course of the day, be it emotional trauma or academic disaster, it is left in the past when we step through the malfunctioning door of Orchard House. We are the strangest assortment of people: in so many ways, we are totally and utterly different. And yet, it works. When we are together, we are safe. We are home.
-Clare Anderson, Bar Harbor, ME