My second trip to Rosenhill just hasn’t been everything I expected it to be. This is both bad (and yes, some things have been bad)–and good (in a this-is-reality, yeah it’s humbling sort of way).
I think that the WWOOFing experience really depends on two factors: the weather (this is obvious) and the people you’re WWOOFing with (maybe also obvious, but…really, really important). Living in a city, your options in terms of social interactions afford you a kind of comforting freedom of thought–Well, people at work were super lame today, but can’t wait to go meet my girls for drinks; go to that open-mic & meet some interesting new people, etc etc. There are so many options in terms of how you want to spend your leisure time, which can be (and most often times is) sharply delineated from your work time.
At the farm, this leisure-work dynamic is totally different. Sure, you have those incredible moments of looking up from harvesting home-grown cherry tomatoes, or bringing a load of freshly pressed apple mash to a group of adorably excited pigs, or going out into the fields to pick flowers for arrangements in the cafe– and thinking: This is my work! This is what I do!
But then, of course, there are moments of tension, especially when your personality clashes with that of the people around you. You may think that there’s only one way to clean a barn or wash a stack of dishes, & that there’s no real way to do it badly–but I assure you that there are multitudes of ways to complete totally menial tasks, and yes, it can be done awfully. And so inevitably, you clash with people in regards of working styles, division of labor, efficiency, etc etc. But at the end of the working day at the farm, everyone doesn’t clock in, bite out good-byes under a fake veneer of cheerfulness, & get the fuck out of there to dinner, or drinks, so on & so forth. At Rosenhill, you finish your work, wash up, and come back to eat (& presumably hang out with) the same people you’ve been working with all day.
This can be an amazing, blessed thing–as with my first time here. We had an amazing group dynamic; everyone was open, outgoing & eager to initiate conversation. On the days we didn’t play games or go swim at the lake, we would just sit on the veranda & chat/sing/laugh until well after midnight. I knew that I would have a struggle, upon coming back a second time, between my expectations & the reality of Rosenhill. I just didn’t expect the struggle to be quite so…severe. Things have been totally different in so many ways since my return: since it’s August and nearing harvest season, the weather has been quite rainy and overcast, as opposed to the plethora of perfect sunny lake-swimming days that we had in July. And as a WWOOFing group, we just haven’t…gelled; although everyone is perfectly nice individually (most of the time, anyway)–the group dynamic is utterly underwhelming, with loads of awkward silences & a complete dearth of group activities.
I’ve been trying not to have a negative attitude about it (…mostly)–and concentrate on what I can learn from it. I’ve done rather less thinking this summer than I planned to, and it’s good to actually be forced (out of boredom, I must admit) to actually sit down & think about where I’m at with…everything. Or else, it’s just all lake & sun & dish-washing & cafe-days & coffee drinking & chats & life goes on and on and on without a moment of reflection. I’m glad I had that period too, though–I did rather too much sitting on my ass this past school year. Regardless of how my Rosenhill experience ends, I know that being here as a WWOOFer has…changed something in me, and only time will tell how I’ve been changed.