On Tuesday I was looking to get the cell to move around a bit after a pretty sedentary day on Monday. Even though it was going to be a hot day I brought Cuddle Buddies Ingrid and Ivan, with the intention of getting them in the water to cool them down during the day. Two Learners were out for the day, and one was running late and missed the morning meeting, so I chose not to introduce the game that I had hoped we could play at the meeting. We decided that instead of heading straight to the lake that we would hike uphill to a spot that only a couple of us had been to. One Learner needed to go to the bathroom so while I waited on the Learner who was running late the other Learners went to the bathroom. It was not long after the Learners returned from the bathroom that the other Learner showed up, and we took off on our hike.

We walked slowly as two of the Learners brought their guitars, we had Ingrid and Ivan, and everyone had their usual equipment. During the walk I got to catch up a bit with the Learner who was leading us to our destination. When we arrived at our location one Learner found a spot to sit, I attached the Cuddle Buddies’ leashes to a tree and put out water for them so I could sit down, and the three other Learners inspected a structure that someone had built (one Learner said it was probably from a boy scout troop). Two of the Learners then decided that they would temporarily squat in the structure, and then decided that they would build a new structure. One Learner stood back and observed.

The Two Learners began to rip, pull, and kick at dead and fallen trees to build their structure. They tried working as a team, then they tried splitting up the task so that one was gathering wood while the other built the structure. I told them to be mindful of sticking their hands into rotting wood, and to please be careful with where they swing their wood when moving by those of us who were not involved in the activity. Soon enough there was disagreement about the quality of wood being collected and the way in which the structure was being built, so the Learners switched roles. The Learner who was standing back and observing grabbed a rock that he could use as a stone hand axe, and found his own way to contribute to the effort without actually dealing with the collecting of wood or building the structure. They made good progress on their structure, and were far more physically active than I had imagined they would be, but the task was a tall one and they did not finish. I broke out my lunch at 12:00 p.m., and they took their position in or around the structure they had found.

Taking a break after a hard morning’s work

Taking a break after a hard morning’s work

After we finished eating we decided to head down to the lake. We stopped briefly at the drop-off location so that we could refill water bottles (two of us did) and then moved toward the lake. One Learner took Ivan while I took Ingrid. As we came around the corner near the small pedestrian bridge over a creek that leads into the lake, we once again saw the water moccasin that apparently really likes to hang out right next to the trail. Venomous snakes typically are not going to be a problem because they want nothing to do with us humans. Unfortunately, Ivan wants everything to do with everything that moves. He immediately moved toward the snake while I asked the Learner who was walking him to pull him back, which was challenging because her hands were full and because she was not used to the leash (a retractable one).

When we arrived at the lake, a Learner set up under some trees, as did I and the two dogs, and three of the Learners took up their usual spot on the dock. Already on the dock was an EMT who was relaxing and listening to music, and the Learners soon got into a conversation with him. The Learner under the trees was focused on inking her comic that she had been working on for much of this cycle, and I pulled out my copy of Raising Free People and read the foreword and the first chapter.

guitar lessons

Guitar lessons on the dock

I stayed away from the dock most of the afternoon, only approaching to let the Learners know when little kids were around so they could be mindful of the language they were using. In addition to just being together, two of them were practicing their guitar playing. On shore I was worried about Ivan and Ingrid overheating so a Learner and I tried to coax them into the water. Each was very apprehensive of getting in as neither of them have ever swam in water before. Eventually I picked each one up and gently placed them in a shallow area of the lake and held them as they went into a natural doggy paddle. I was more thrilled about their progress than they were. The Learner who was helping me then decided she wanted to wade in the lake herself. I then took Ivan over to a deeper part of the lake where he couldn’t just paddle over to a shore to walk up, and set him in. But this time he did not gracefully doggy paddle. He panicked. And in his panic he was exerting tremendous energy to stay above water in a way that was completely counterintuitive based on how effortlessly he doggy paddled before. So I took him back over to the shallow part of the lake to remind him that he could effortlessly swim, again. I then jumped into the water myself, from the top of the boathouse, to cool off.

Our time together ran out quickly, and at 3:30 p.m. we came back together again for our afternoon roundup. We did rose-bud-thorn to reflect on our day, and we reviewed how we did on our practices. Even in this still hot weather, we are not drinking enough water, although our masking and social distancing practices are going fairly well. I then asked each Learner to tell me what they felt the culture of Abrome was. One Learner asked me to be more specific as to what culture was. After a short discussion about culture the Learners gave their answers (I’m paraphrasing): community, open-minded, “vibing,” and no social hierarchies. After that we packed up, checked to make sure we were not leaving anything behind, and then walked out of the park for the day.