Part 1 – Preparation
This summer, for the first time, this place opened its arms for a short spell to a larger community of humans, for the sacred enterprise of crafting singing bowls.
I had been hoping for this to come about for some time, having seen our hearth as a ‘making place’ ever since first setting my feet on this land. It might never have materialised, though, without a special ‘yes’ from a number people. Our neighbour, Claude, generously consented to offer the spare bedrooms of her magical home to house any of our guests who needed to sleep over during the making process. Michaela became my logistics angel and sheet anchor, holding the details with competence and absolute calm while I flopped around in resistance and debutante’s nerves. Ria’s friends Jim and Gie loaned us the use of their big party tent – an absolute must when planning outdoor activity in June in Belgium! And, above all, Chrisje, who took the massive step of opening her home to an unspecified number of complete strangers – many speaking no Flemish – for 10 days, during a working week. As an extra bulwark, Steve nomaded in, in the nick of time to help prepare for the arrivals.
I must admit, I had some trepidation about hosting so many people on the land for the first time. Would there be enough space for everything and everyone? Would the inhabitants of this place (including Twinkie, the chicken and the frogs) still find their needed moments of solitude and peace? Would I manage to cook for so many without melting down into a puddle of hysterical neurosis?
Late on the evening of Wednesday 10 June, Gabriella ‘Songbird’ Kapfer and Heather Cowen arrived in their big orange van full of smithing equipment and deep expertise, to accompany us in the adventure of making these new instruments. Their first sight of the valley, in the gloaming just as night drew on, created quite an impression for these very perceptive and place-savvy ladies.
We spent Thursday scoping the land and sensing into where to place the different stations on the bowl-making journey. The party tent, the forge, the tools and equipment… Steve started in on the tent construction – foresight had had me up very early during the heatwave of the previous weekend scything the tall, dew-laden grass at the bottom boundary to clear a space for it.
Everything felt spacious, everything found its place. The sun shone and the land opened itself to accommodate all our needs, perceived and real. Chrisje miraculously manifested industrial quantities of divine dessert when she came home from work. There was even time for some sound treatment with Steve’s Tibetan healing bowls before bed.