By: Chelsea Martus
When asked to look back and revisit my time and service in Hawley I realize it is hard for me to articulate the words that can describe what I have truly experienced here as part of the SCA Massachusetts AmeriCorps. First, Let me begin by painting a slight picture of our home for the last 10-5 months.
Hawley sits in the middle of the Pionieer Valley out of reach from prying eyes and in a secret dimension outside of the everyday normal hustle and bustle of the world. An almost private oasis surrounded by smaller towns in which people seem to smile and enjoy the slow journey of life.
The first place to come to mind is the kitchen with its square benched tables its long white counter, the silver glistening chef’s stove and oven, the loud obnoxious hood fan that ran through the winter drowning out the noises of our WFR lesson but not actually heating anything. The kitchen in Hawley is the heart at which the members live their lives, with its whiteboard covered in peoples artwork some which may be considered on the level of picasso while others dwindle down to what could barely be recognized as stick figures. The first day this place seemed scary but soon I found it to be a place filled with warmth, not the kind of warmth you escape to for the protection from the bitter winter, but the warmth of a home, a place where you could always find someone smiling, someone to talk to and a place filled with all the smells of a five star kitchen, plus some not so five star smells that could to some degree be ignored.
The corps members life revolves around this heart with its perfectly serene view of the pond. The pond filled with its many secrets and adventures just awaiting the members of the corps. The pond with its lost shirts, flipped over canoes and long streaks of adventure running across its snow caped ice. The pond which is home to Bidoof the beaver the unknown and not so secret member of the 2017-2018 Corps. Walking up the path to either side of the kitchen you can view the office filled with its papers, computers and staff hard at their work. Our other important home of the members the bunkhouse with its mountainous and ominous Mary Poppins book shelf that never seems to run out of books, to the specially and dramatically decorated bunks of the corps members this is a place where all our unwinding is done and all our secret moments are stored a place where we all find ourselves late in the evening remembering why we all are here and what this place means to us.
Hawley was our base our place we always return to after the long days out on the trail. In the beginning it was like a whirlwind of emotions, we moved from moment to moment learning first each others names, the location of the bathroom, and then the skills required to work together in difficult situations. The beginning was like a dream two weeks of training as Wilderness first responders and a few more long weeks looking forward to conservation season. Then came hitch 1 followed closely by hitch 2. The swing of life seemed to swiftly move forward in a direction aimed out towards the end of the program. We each spent days and nights together out in the woods talking, laughing and embracing the full interaction and new found friendships of our fellow like minded corps member. Building and dreaming together, strengthening bonds and creating projects that seemed to mean so much to each of us, that seem to hold the importance of each new friendship made over the unique 10 days we had spent together. Now here as Hitch 8 rapidly approaches with heart clenching full of sadness, for the moment where we will draw our last refreshing breaths at Hawley together as a corps I realize what truly serving as part of the SCA Massachusetts AmeriCorps has given me. It has given me the life long bonds of friends memories and skills I will never truly forget or lose for some time.