Valerie’s Day at the Gathering

I wake up to the sound of birdsong, and peek out my tent flap to find
golden rays of sunlight filtering through the green leaves of this
forest I’m camped in. I start the day with morning yoga followed by a
delicious breakfast of home-made yogurt and granola, around a table
of women from several different states, each with an interesting
story to share.Then comes the first decision of the day–choosing which of the wide
variety of workshops to attend. My options include learning about
herbal practices for menstrual health, drumming in an
African-American tradition, journal writing as a path to personal
growth, and more. The woman sitting beside me at breakfast is headed
to the Oasis tent, where she’ll learn to crochet, and I decide to
join her.

After lunch I check out the mudpit by the river. The silky feeling of
being immersed, along with the red-brown mud smeared over every inch
of exposed skin, breaks down any barriers of self-consciousness
between the women in the pit, and soon we are laughing uproariously
before heading over the river to clean ourselves up and become
revitalized by the pleasantly chilly current.

After supper, I join a handful of women who are observing the end of
the Jewish Sabbath at sundown. When we return to the main site, the
Sharing Stage is in full swing, with women revealing their talents,
from dance to music to spoken word, along with a play the kids have
thrown together. The evening ends with a full-scale, bustin’ loose
rock-n-roll outdoor dance party, accompanied by some drummers around
the campfire.

Back at my tent, this time serenaded by the evening song of cicadas,
I revel in the feeling of having found such a group of women, so
wholly and joyfully engaged in celebrating ourselves and our
creativity, and I wonder what new experiences tomorrow’s activities
will bring.

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