Get Horizonal !

2560 1920 Strawbale Studio

(photo of Jack in his hammock!)

2020-7 Week 1 Blog Posts by new intern, Jack Chase:

Get Horizontal!

A blog post by Jack Chase

Thank you for happening upon this blog and for reading this post. This post describes the perspective of an intern (that’s me!), my voyage, and my arrival at the Strawbale Studio for the first time.

Sixteen hours is a long way to drive. When the GPS says “about 12 hours,” expect to add 20% in breaks for gas, bathrooms, and then a one-hour stop to have dinner with a college friend in Cleveland. My passion for mudbrick and regenerative agriculture can only take me so far, and only after my eighth hour of driving do I realize just how grateful I would be to take that dinner break with an old adventuring buddy from Dungeons and Dragons.

I have no idea what to expect. I’ve talked with Deanne herself (praise be!) and some former interns, who say things like “Do it! It’s the experience of a lifetime. The skills Deanne taught me have made natural building a reality for me, and the wisdom she lives by every day and shares has been equally important” (Aaron Brown) and “The experience was enlightening, fulfilling, and unlike anything else I had ever done” (Vivien Yousif). Even the more detailed parts of my conversations with them confuse and astound me. This is only the beginning.

When I first turn off the paved roads of Oxford, Michigan, the canopy of vines and trees over the dirt road in the cool dark of this July night flummox me. Just a minute or two ago, I passed a Kroger, and now my company is only cicadas and fireflies. I look down at the passenger seat for just a moment. There’s a cooler, a few masks, and two bottles of hand sanitizer. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine that the pandemic would take me on a journey to an off-grid wilderland without running water or grid-style electricity.

20 minutes ago, my GPS said “Just 15 minutes to go, you can do it!” and yes, I were definitely talking to myself again. 7 p.m., when I left, seems like a week ago. Just as I turn onto the aptly named Noble Rd. (noble for its virtue, not for its class), my phone loses service. I pass farm after farm, looking for the place that will be my home. Not a drive, but a grassy path waits at the mailbox with the fated numbers. I follow the directions to the 200 square foot cedar cabin, where I’ll be staying, but when I pull in, the waxing gibbous moon and the lightning bugs reveal a lean-to and two natural buildings. Will I be staying in one of these? I climb up the ladder of the closer one; it’s ceilings are low, but there’s a loft with a few strawbales to sleep on. This is definitely not a cedar cabin.

I hop back in my car after wandering and scratching my head. The apparent labyrinth of grassy paths, none of which are really fit for my “Morning Sky Blue” smart-car wannabe, takes me then to a meadow, then to the main house. The lights in the window mean that it surely cannot be mine, for, to keep quarantine, I offered to stay in the guest cabin. That’s when I hear,

“Wahey! Is that you?”

“Yes I’m so tired”

“Well, let’s see how we can get you sleeping. Your cabin’s down the second grassy path, and when it splits in two, you’ll follow the left. Then, get horizontal!”

And so I did.

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