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24th April, 2014. By Harper Cowan.

We leave our beloved Snaggy Mountain, not too heartbroken because we’ve decided to return in a few days, and make our way to Lotus Lodge, a co-operative house outside of Asheville and film and interview a white haired woman named Gaya. It feels like a mother’s house, the tea cups are clean, there are no ticks crawling up our legs. She speaks of the feeling she had when she was young that life would be much easier, much more fun, if we all lived it together.

Jess & I camp a night at Mama Gertie’s, we can’t peg our tent in to the gravel ground and play our song in the dark and hope not to blow away.

On Tuesday we drive through Black Mountain to an eco-village called Earthaven. It is the most idyllic looking place we’ve been yet. There are beautiful children running all around, playing on rope swings and running over creeks on bridges made of fallen tree trunks.

We are kindly invited to breakfast the next morning with Sarah from San Diego and a 74 year old firecracker named Alice. We eat in the oldest building at Earthaven, a communal kitchen that is airy, light and clean and filled with old fading photographs and various teas and spices.

We take a tour of the grounds and see every kind of dwelling possible – there are small adobe looking houses with bright mosaics in the walls, there are trailers, apartment buildings, large efficiently built houses, shared homes and an earth ship – designed to be completely in harmony with the environment, made of recycled materials, south facing, warm in the winter & cool in the summer. That house is beautiful, cool and comfortable inside and there is a garden with birds and wind chimes and a stair case made of inside out tires filled with pebbles.

Our second night at Earthaven I dreamt that Bob Dylan was giving me a tour of old buildings in Paris where angels had fought. Our third morning at Earthaven I wake up singing and I can see our blessed tent for what it really is from the inside with sunshine streaming through – vibrant shades of red, pink, peach, salmon, apricot, blue, grey & teal. My senses are heightened and I can see now more fully colors on the spectrum. I can smell and hear and taste better. And I’ve been talking to animals a lot. Is that a sense? Because I have it, and it’s heightened.

Before dinner we all, strangers, hold hands and say one at a time what we are grateful for. I’ve felt my joyful heart pumping blood right up under my skin all day, I’ve felt so raw, I tell them all I’ve already cried five times since arriving and I tear up again as the circle goes around. We are grateful for community, for beauty and the ability to be aware of it. For choices. For nature, for spring springing, for fresh, local, organic foods, for each other.

After dinner they start work on a fresh batch of dandelion wine and we film an interview with a man originally from Texas named Lindon. He loquaciously answers all kinds of questions that we didn’t ask. He’s wonderful and looks beautiful on the screen – cowboy hat, pink plush velvet armchair, shadows rising around us.

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