In Greenwich Mean Time, fifteen minutes doesn’t seem like a significant amount of time, but at Chewonki, arriving at the farm at 6:30 while all of the other cabins are allotted a luxurious fifteen minutes of extra sleep before the world mandates their appearance at morning gather at 6:45, it’s a big deal.
As we rub the sleep out of our eyes and watch the farm cart struggle through the potholes, the sun begins to rise. We split up and tackle our chores, letting the silence slowly ease away as our vocal chords wake up to greet the day, and by the time I have finished brushing each piece of dirt and dust from Sal’s thick coat, laughter brings us to the last piece of our chore: sweeping the barn. The action may seem simple, humdrum, ordinary, monotonous, mundane, but it is the opposite. Sweeping the barn aisle requires finesse and tenacity, dedication to, as Megan Phillips says, “making order out of chaos”. At first sweeping was somewhat tedious; why did we need three people? But then we established a rhythm and began to sweep with an organized system: Ruthy took the big piles, Abby and I the small bits from the corners, together the three of us created chaos in the barn with our chores, and then restored it to order with our tag-team sweeping.
Megan Phillips is the greatest, a well-known fact, but she also embodies Chewonki in many ways. Her idea of disrupting order, creating chaos, and then reinstating order into things is something unique to Chewonki. Here we are, on the coast of Maine, far away from everything we know, bringing our destructive teenage selves into an incredible, functional, productive and inspiring community. We bring noise, trash, irresponsibility, anxiety, and a plethora of personalities to a place full of peace and respect and worldly values; we, the forty-one of us semester students, bring chaos to Chewonki. And yet, we generate order each and every day. We stack wood, clean toilets, prepare meals, mop floors, gather branches, shovel snow, feed raptors, and so much more. Every day here we disrupt the order that makes Chewonki run with our own chaos, and each day we restore this incredible place with order once more.
Sweeping the barn could easily be a one-person job, but here it isn’t. Chewonki means working together to create order in the rapidly moving world, forming bonds through the work we do together, through the shared experiences we have. Time is flying by, and if I had swept the barn alone each morning of farm chores, I would have missed all of those small morning moments with Ruthy, Abby, and Megan. We’re nearing the end, semester 46, but we’ve done it all, and it’s been nothing short of fantastic. I know now, and will remember always, that sweeping the barn aisle is at least a three-person job.