lessons from the lake

Well, I'm back, all of me, except maybe a bit of my mind. No frostbite or scurvy to report. My trip to Minnesota turned out to be pretty remarkable, and unlike anything I have previously experienced. As you have requested, this is going to be a bit of a hefty post. Beginning with photos and explainations.
This first one was taken moments after arriving to the lake (Medicine Lake to be exact). I still don't know if I fully comprehend that we were on a frozen lake the entire time, especially because we drove the truck right out to the shanty on a "road" of cleared snow. The light was beautiful, and the sun was warm so we went for a sunset skate before dinner.
The boys below are the founders of the Dance Shanty, and extraordinary place to bust a move (which we did on many occasions and at wee hours). Seconds after meeting them we shared in hummus, tortillas, and whiskey. The first of many communal meals.

This is Grant. He was a weekend addition to the crew just like me. He was a pure delight and had an incredible sense of fashion. The main staple of his wardrobe being the bow tie which he wore day and night. You just don't see enough bow ties these days.

The shanty was amazingly warm and homey for being on a frozen lake. Although, I should have expected this from Mary who is a master nester and and expert at creating welcoming and fascinating living spaces. The inside walls were lined with curiosities, photos, books, and more that reflected the theme of Earnest Shackleton and his crew of polar explorers.
It was so nice to see Mary, and experience this project of hers first hand, because there is no way that the actual experience can be fairly relayed through phone calls (or blog posts). Mary has a way of completely blowing people away with her creativity and conversation skills. The people of the Art Shanty project were no different. I heard many times over that this was one of the most successful and inspirational projects to ever hit the ice.
The front door of the shanty:
Preparing the ice rink for the Ice-capade:
This is the resident ice dog, Bell. She belongs to the director of the Art Shanty Project who also spent most nights on the ice with us, and I accompanied she, Mary, and her owner on a couple of morning walks. I spent the entire time wishing I could hire Bell to be Waldo's mentor on how to be the perfect dog.
Saturday morning, dressed for the public, sitting outside the shanty with Mary and Amber:

The public arrives:
Peaceful nighttime shadows from outside the shanty:
I believe this was a quiet evening of conversation and soup. Although it could have been the evening with moonlight dancing, naked sauna goers (not me), and 1 am french toast cooking...

Some lessons and thoughts I have stowed away from this experience:
1. Doing things out of your comfort zone is immensely important. Dressing in beard costumes, participating in Ice-capades, and instigating interaction/conversation with hundreds of strangers is not necessarily my forte. But, I gave it a go, and had fun doing it.
2. As a society, we generally have a skewed idea of what is important. From most people's perspective, building bizarre structures on a frozen lake must seem like a colossal waste of time. I, however, disagree. I think it is absolutely essential for people to embrace this sort of folly. It is vitally important to partake and share in creative endeavors of any sort. At one point, I was laying face up on the ice rink, fully doning a beard costume, watching giant penguins (people in costume of course) skate in and out of my field of vision. A small part of me was whispering, "what in tarnation are you doing? this is not normal behavior," but a larger part of me was saying, "if you ever forget to partake in moments like this you are in big trouble missy."
3. I exude far less generosity than I receive. For one thing, I have friends nice enough to watch my not so easy to watch puppy for five days without asking for anything in return. Then I have a dear friend near Seattle who feeds me (literally and mentally/spiritually) every time I pop in. And, out on the lake, where I thought I would be surviving on granola bars, I ate better than I've eaten in months, thanks to the other artists and people in the surrounding community that brought food to share daily. Also, Mary, Molly, and Amber who so kindly welcomed me into their tiny space and made the experience as comfortable as possible. I think I experienced true community out there. People were kind to one another, and were interested in understanding one another. It's a beautiful thing to see.

There's so much more, more than I can really communicate...especially now, as my eyelids are closing. Tomorrow, it's back to the grind at school, and I'm looking forward to sleeping in my bed. There might be a sequal to this post tomorrow....

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