With apologies to the Beatles, the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, and the state of Vermont.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Chapter Two: Dan Finds Folks

       "But Daniel was hot.  He thought quite a lot..."

Dan left after breakfast the next morning.  His parting words were,  "I'll be back.  With reinforcements."

Within hours he had left Luna and the mountains of green far behind and was riding into megalopolis, Manhattan, and Newark, and Trenton, and Philly, and Wilmington, and Baltimore, and finally into the District of Columbia.  When he had left Washington behind, the land turned green once more.  His final ride took him into Clarissa County, home of the Three Sycamores commune.

Three Sycamores had almost two hundred people living in a small village.  They had lots of communal houses and a big dining hall named after a famous Russian Jewish farmer.  They grew their own food, had plenty of cows and chickens and goats and elk, and made their money from a bunch of little businesses, including their signature Three Sycamores lawn furniture and their home grown organic pickle relish.  They had a rock band, and a funk band, and a Klezmer band, and two or three jazz bands.  They even had an a capella shape note blues singing choral choir which was famous throughout the county.  What they didn't have was anyone who was interested in moving north to start a commune.

Fortunately, a mere seven point three four miles down New Valley Road in nearby Vitamin Rock, was the new commune called Old Corn.  And when Dan went there he got lucky.

     "...she called herself Sal, and everyone knew her and Nancy."

It was at Old Corn that Dan ran into a sassy sapphic couple who were tired of the hot southern summers.

"So, what's the point of this commune, anyway?" asked Sal.

"We're going to do organic farming," Dan explained patiently, trying to remember what Luna had told him that night. "We'll be doing lots of cutting edge stuff, like Protoculture, and Eco-expensive Agriculture, and Five Season Harvesting."

Nancy yawned.  "We do lots of gardening here.  What's so different about your commune?"

"Well, how much snow do you get here?"

"We got almost a foot last year," said Sal.

"Luna told me they get around six feet a year up there.  And that's normal."

"Wow," both women said.

"Plus, you'd have the fun of starting something from scratch up there instead of just sitting around here packing weeds."

"Well, we get to pick weeds, too," Nancy said, but she didn't sound enthusiastic.

In the end, Sal and Nancy decided they needed a break from packing and picking weeds and thought it might be fun to see this new commune.

It turned out that Nancy had a car and she and Sal and Dan headed north together.  Sal said she had a friend who lived at the Wilmington Free Farm that she thought might want to join them. That became their first stop.

     "So one day they drove into town.  Booked themselves a room in the local commune..."

The first thing that they noticed as they got out of Nancy's 1984 Rabbit was the lush land surrounding the Free Farm.  Vegetables, herbs, berries, flowers, grasses, and weeds grew together in wild disarray.  It was like the land inside Old Corn or Three Sycamores having been let free (or burst free), except in this case the trees and forests of Clarissa County which surrounded the communes had been replaced by crumbling city buildings in glorious states of urban disrepair.

Nancy started running around looking at everything.  "It's like one of those, you know, things in the desert that have palm trees."

"An onassis?" Sal asked.

"Yeah, something like that.  An onassis in the city."

A young man flew out of the house at the back of the land.  "Sal!  Nancy!  Strange guy!  Welcome!"

"Hey, Stan," Sal said.  "It's been a while."

"Stan," Nancy said, "this is Dan."

"Hey, Dan!  Pleased to meet ya!" said Stan.

"Is he usually this enthusiastic?" Dan asked.

"Oh," said Sal, "you should see him when he's really excited."

"Ya'll need a place to stay???"

"Just for the night," said Nancy.  "We're headed up north to see Dan's friend Luna's new commune.  Want to join us?"

"Wow!  Would I???  We just had a commune meeting last night!  This might be a great time for me to go traveling!"

"I won't ask," said Sal.

Inside the house, everything was organized with complete abandon.  Battered tables were covered with books and dishes and art projects and they had their choice of decrepit sofas to sit on--as long as they moved the stuff on them.

"Where's everybody else?" Dan asked.

"Off in search of food!  There are dumpsters in Wilmington that are overflowing!  Someone needs to liberate the contents!"

Sure enough, a half hour later a bedraggled cluster of young folk streamed into the house carrying massive amounts of produce and canned goods.  A table was cleared off and food was sorted out amidst sporadic introductions of the various newcomers.  A couple of the men started dinner preparations, while communards handed them stuff that needed to be used quickly.

"Living off the land!" Stan said as someone passed him a steaming plate of food.

"Yes, and how long are you going to be living off this place?" a woman asked him.

"Ah!" said Stan.  "We were just talking about that!"

Dan, Sal, and Nancy all ended up together in the guest room which fortunately had a double and a single bed.

The next morning most of the commune came out to wish Stan a fond farewell.  "And if we ever see your sorry..." someone yelled, but the rest was lost in the noise of the traffic.

"I could be coming for an extended stay!" said Stan.


  1. Russian Jewish farmer? Hm... someone from Anatovka? :-)

  2. More like someone from Zhankoye--which is the actual name of the Twin Oaks dining hall.

  3. Well what do you know.
    Hm... seems to be a song... I wonder if this place really existed? So unlikely that a Soviet collective farm would be "Jewish"... whatever that would mean in the Crimea in the 30s... Stalin's purges heyday. Weird.