This past Saturday morning, I woke up at 7:30 a.m. to find BuckeyeGirl (Deb) and Gayle outside milking my cow. They had gotten up early and driven here from Camp Sheppard to take care of BP for me so that I could get ready to teach. There was not one moment of the entire weekend that wasn’t packed with an example of cheerfulness, helpfulness, giving, sharing, and selflessness like that. Everyone did things that they didn’t have to do and often weren’t even asked to do. (LauraP was at my house scrubbing my goats’ water buckets the morning of the party! Kellyb’s husband fixed my toilet! Cincyjojo carried out load after load to my car Saturday night! Don’t even get me started on Mrs. Fuzz who gave up her last two classes to go with Pete to take home another attendee who had fallen ill! Or I’ll have to write a whole post just about her! Without a doubt, Mrs. Fuzz is a hero to every single person who was there when it happened.) People who PAID to be at the retreat were happily mopping floors, carrying pots, washing bowls, and laughing while sweat rolled out of their soapmaking gloves when they lifted their arms. We had a HEAT WAVE. September is my favorite month of the year here for its perfect weather, and never did I imagine it would be 100 degrees the weekend of our retreat. The hall had no air conditioning.
I never heard a single complaint.
(You should have seen how fast the bread was rising in the breadmaking classes!)
There was nothing but smiles and laughter and hugs all weekend. Everyone was so eager to learn, and a joy to teach. “What can I do to help you?” was heard over and over by every teacher. For me, it was a thrill to see people almost jumping up and down when they made mozzarella or realized how easy it was to make bread and candles and soap. I watched women who’d never used a drill before parading proudly through the hall with cheese presses they’d made themselves. People who were afraid to can took home jars of salsa and banana split in a jar–no longer afraid. The kitchen was filled with preserving students helping our cook, Debbie–just because they could. I think I can speak for all of us who worked at the retreat, thank you from the bottoms of our hearts. When we were tired, you were giving us a hug. When we were hot, you were making us laugh. And when our feet hurt, you were asking us what you could carry. You carried us.
Thank you to CindyP, Dede, and LauraP for teaching (and 52 in woodworking!), Debbie for cooking our meals and baking bread 12 hours a day (NO EXAGGERATION), Pete and BuckeyeGirl and Gayle for tirelessly volunteering, and CindyP again for being an amazing partner in the planning and preparation for months on end.
You can read more about everyone’s experiences at the retreat in the forum topic here: CITR Retreat Memories.
See the complete CITR Retreat 2011 gallery of photos here. (Wish I’d taken more! I was distracted!)
And YES. We’re doing it again. (Maybe a few weeks later in the year so we don’t risk another heat wave.)
P.S. If you have retreat photos on your blog or Facebook, feel free to post the link to share!