Big news, folks. Dunno why it’s taken me so long to announce this, but I am moving back to the sanctuary, where I’ll be living in a 1973 Airstream trailer, sharing my front yard with cows and chickens in the part of the mountainous sanctuary property we call “up the hill.”
As regular SuperWeed readers know, I co-founded VINE Sanctuary (originally Eastern Shore Sanctuary) with Miriam Jones in rural Maryland back in 2000. We both lived on site for the first several years. Then I managed operations on site while Miriam lived elsewhere (visiting frequently) for a couple of years. That experience—solo sanctuary work in rural isolation—really wore me out, so I’ve taken a break from direct animal care for a couple of years while Miriam has more-than-ably not only managed but significantly expanded the sanctuary following its relocation to rural Vermont. (She’ll still be running the show. I’ll just be pitching in with sanctuary chores while getting back to the steady schedule of writing and speaking that I used to maintain.)
Speaking of writing, I’m just now finishing what ought to be the penultimate round of revisions on the book about the sanctuary’s first decade (and so much more—it’s about birds and people, race and place, and the ecology of violence). I started keeping notes for that book shortly after we took in the first chicken, becuase it was already clear to me that other people both wanted and needed to hear the stories I was living and observing out in the chicken yards. I had a go at writing the book in 2005, but that draft was a disaster, partly because I was still in the midst of of its narrative and partly because I didn’t yet have the skills I needed to tell the tale adequately. So, I wrote Aftershock and then set about developing my creative non-fiction skills while continuing to live the story. The next big push to write the book started in 2009, as the sanctuary’s decade on the Delmarva came to a close, providing a natural endpoint for the narrative. Three years and heaven-knows-how-many rebuilds, rewrites, and remixes later, it’s really ready. Next step: Pitching to publishers, so wish me luck on that.
I’m excited about that and about the move, but I also have mixed feelings. While it will be very good for me to get back to the sanctuary and to pick up some of the work set aside whilst making my living by teaching, I’m going to miss teaching at MCTC and Metrostate here in the Twin Cities more than I can say. And there are people (and places) I’ll miss too. So, don’t be surprised to see some “what I’ll miss about Minneapolis” posts in the next couple of months. But do feel free to cheer me on as I prepare to segue to the next stage in my life.