To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Part 4: Post 5: Nora and the Bees

 Nora seems to have a thing about bees now. I forget if I’ve mentioned it, but there are beehives on campus. That’s where we get all our honey and the wax for our candles. The beekeeper is an ally who comes in a couple of times a week. For the last month or two, maybe, Nora has been tagging along with her as much as possible, helping out and talking. Now, she can’t stop talking about it to us.

 I suppose Nora hanging out with the beekeeper is not all that different from me tagging along with Charlie when he works, except that I don't go on and on about it. Nora does have more time to tag along than I do, though, because she's not working and because she's only taking half as many credits. I forget if I've mentioned it, but Nora is on a six year track, because she hasn't finished high school yet. 

It’s not that she’s not smart enough, of course, it’s that there are some assignments here that require skills she doesn't have yet, so she takes a lot longer to finish her homework. But not all of her homework assignments are like that, so she often has a lot of free time. She's using it to hang out with the beekeeper and also with Kit. I expect she'll choose both of them as masters, if she hasn't done it yet. She's reading up on bees, she got her own bee suit for her birthday, and she's particularly interested in the wax. She made last week's batch of candles by herself, and now she's trying to figure out how to make scented candles. The wax belongs to the school, so she has to find someone willing to use scented candles for some legitimate school-related purpose before she actually makes them. Kit just said she'd use the scented candles in one of her classes, and this is why Nora is talking non-stop about bees and candles today.

She seems really young, talking on and on excitedly like this. Sometimes I forget she's really a high schooler. Other times, she says or does something, and it's like she might as well be twelve. But then, I probably sound about the same to a lot of the older students.

Nora doesn’t need to choose masters yet, even though she seems to be doing so. They set the deadlines for such things based on when you’re supposed to be done, not based on how long you’ve been here, so the longer you’re here the longer you can wait to choose. Arthur had to choose in his first couple weeks, because he only has one year here. Of course, he only had to choose one master, because he tested out of everything. For full-course students, you have to choose both your spirit master and your athletics master by the beginning of your first fall semester, but the others can wait a year or two. I think those are first because they usually take longer.

As I’ve said, I chose Charlie as my spirit master. I didn’t need an athletics master, but I now have him for that, too, at his suggestion. I’ll probably choose him for craft master, too. I don’t need an art master, and as far as I know Charlie doesn’t teach healing or magic, so I’ll have to choose somebody else for those. Most of the other yearlings have already chosen at least some of their masters, too; the leanings, the hints, I noticed a month or two ago, when we argued about who of our teachers was Dumbledore, have developed, crystallized out, into real choices.

Andy has organized his studies around something he calls “radical Christianity,” although, oddly enough, his spirit master is Greg, who isn’t Christian. I think he’s going to ask Kit to be his athletics master, so he can study yoga. He still sometimes gets almost manically excited about things, and he came back to the dorm a few weeks ago after a workshop Kit taught (“Beyond the Asanas,” I think it was called) just blown away by the idea that yoga is not just a series of stretches but also a way of living that includes kindness and generosity. He’s also adopted the care of all the campus bicycles, studying bicycle maintenance with Chuck, the maintenance man. I had thought that his interest in the bicycles seemed unhealthy—remember that he first came to campus in order to steal one of our bicycles, which he returned after he got clean. It was like he couldn’t let go of that guilt. But he seems really happy fixing bicycles, and he’s really good at it. He says that sometimes a debt that cannot be paid, a wound that cannot be healed, is a gift.

“Fixing bicycles makes me real,” he said. I don’t know what he meant.

Joanna is studying both Wicca and yoga with Kit, and stays out late on full and new moon nights in order to meet in ritual with Kit’s teaching coven. She’s already making ritual objects with Kit, that’s her craft, and she says she’s going to ask Charlie to teach her leatherwork and beading. I usually don’t think of him as an artist in that way, most of the time, though of course writing and landscape design are both arts, but I’ve seen his quiver, simple and practical but fringed at the top and bottom by rows of large, unique beads threaded through with leather thongs, and he made it himself.

Three of the women named Raven are working mostly with Kit, three are working mostly with Allen, and one with Charlie. I’m really going to have to come up with a way to differentiate them in writing—we use context, for the most part, or last names, which I don’t want to share. Dan, who shares my name and my age, is studying Zen Buddhism with Karen and music and dance with Kit. One woman, Sally, is studying New Age spirituality and horsemanship with Joy. And on and on.

I’m starting not to really understand what my fellow students are saying. We used to all have these great conversations together, and I still get to have conversations like that, but not with the same people as often. We’re all doing different things and getting excited about different ideas. It’s like we don’t even share the same language all the time now.

A few months ago, when we argued about who was Dumbledore, I thought that maybe we were really arguing about which teacher was most central to our experience of the school. We disagreed because we each saw the school differently. I said, at the time, that it was like we were each going to a different school, in a way. Now, it seems I was more right than I thought I was. And I wish I wasn’t.

[Next Post: Friday, July 5th: Fireworks]

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