Dreamy Paonia By Mary Grace Campbell

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My first two and a half weeks in Paonia, Colorado have been a beautiful whirlwind.

My first days were filled with group conversations about the nature of living in community, picking ripe fruits from the side of the road, jumping into the icy irrigation ditch, and simply being in awe of this amazing place.

14355641_2001707410055638_7195928012616614891_nExactly one week after arriving we embarked on our first big adventure: summiting East Beckwith. We woke before the sun rose and loaded onto Critter (our funky fifteen passenger van). I snoozed for most of the hour drive to our destination. When about to begin our trek, I felt nervous about my first attempt at climbing a mountain and unsure about my own ability to summit. The first part of the hike was the toughest. As we got higher and the terrain changed from green forest to seemingly treacherous jagged rock, I felt surprisingly energized. Climbing up the rocks was a fun and difficult challenge. Each step was a bit precarious, not knowing if a rock may be loose and potentially cause a rock slide. But I did indeed make it to the top! As I approached the top, I was met with cheers of encouragement from all the crew who had already made it to the top. Making it to the summit was so amazing! I felt such a sense of accomplishment reaching an elevation of 12,441 feet and summiting my first ever mountain.

The following Friday morning I participated in the butchering of chickens. It was completely emotionally draining, while at the same time a major spiritual and educational experience. I participated in each part of the process, from calming the chickens beforehand to packaging after. I learned more about anatomy from butchering a chicken than I did from a whole semester of high school anatomy class.

In just over two weeks I have become a much more competent kitchen companion. I’ve helped in the process of canning plum jam, trying out various salsas, crafting mozzarella cheese, and my knife skills are on a whole new level considering there was absolutely no skill before! But there are delicious foods everywhere and I am loving being nourished by the hands of friends with the goods from nearby farmers.

Yesterday was a day filled with immense love. I felt so fortunate to be present for Dev and Marian’s wedding celebration. There was so much beauty and joy all around me. Delicious foods, engaging conversation, with the backdrop of snow tipped mountains, followed by contra dancing the night away…dare I say, a perfect night?

There is so much more that has filled my days in Paonia, I’ve given just a taste!

In two days we are setting out on a five day backpacking trip in the West Elk Wildernes, so more posts to come!


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