As a result of comfort and familiarity, and also attachment and ownership, I’d say your second visit someplace, or your third or fourth and so on, always looks very different from the first time you see a new place. After flying over eight states and driving through two more, I pulled into the driveway at SCA Massachusetts AmeriCorps a little over two months ago for the first time. On the lawn next to the pond, a group of strangers, but soon to be friends, were playing Frisbee. I hopped out of the SCA van that picked me up from the airport, grabbed my bags and walked down to the lawn, shook hands, and then joined in on the game as soon as I’d ditched my stuff.
It’s funny thinking back to my first day in Hawley and all of the awkward conversation we made while we waited for everyone to show up, because after even just a couple of months with the members there, it’s almost like we’re a big family.
A lot of life in Hawley revolves around dinner, and for me it’s our kitchen that symbolizes so much of the great community that forms through this program every year. Whether it’s your turn for the daily chore to make the salad for dinner, or posting up in the dish room after a great meal and washing the dishes like we’re at a dance party, blasting a corps members iPod over speakers, or enjoying a dinner table debate of whether or not Burrito Thursday really has been going on too long, life at Hawley is fun, and always varied, and often works through our big kitchen. When it’s not mealtime, our kitchen is still a familiar place for important conversations, and many training sessions, and also a place for planning a lesson that you’re preparing to teach that week. And when there’s down time, the kitchen is a place I often find myself playing cards or chatting with members.
It’s difficult to pick just one thing to talk about when I talk about SCA Massachusetts AmeriCorps, but my favorite thing is to talk about the people and the community. Aside from all of the skills I’ve already learned, and the ecology lessons, and all of the rounds of wood I’ve split preparing for winter in the last two months, it’s the times sitting at the table in the kitchen, talking, and planning lessons, and playing cards, and laughing with friends that makes this program really special. It’s special working there, because the SCA is bound to attract special people that care about our planet and love to get things done to make it a little bit better.