May 11, 2009

Report: May 9-10 Monastery Work Weekend

It looked rough Friday evening for the few of us who arrived early: 30 mph winds (a few limbs came down on the land) and driving rain most of the night - except for a surreal half-hour when the full moon, between banks of cloud, illuminated a very cold but clear sky. Then more rain sweeping in, tapering off to heavy mist in the morning...

By the time the rest of the crew arrived, though, the day had brightened somewhat. We even had some sun. And with the rain spring had fully arrived: by Sunday, the light green new leaves had begun to unfurl into broad, dark green. We're now able to visualize again the lush summer canopy, which will soon cover the ravines and deepen the silence of the place.

All in all, a great and enormously productive weekend. 24 total made it up, with most camping out on the land. Six hours of chain-sawing and chipping gave us a completely clear site: the chips were used for our trail. On the other side of the ravine, our parking area was being cleared of brush. One stump and a rock that I'd been convinced would require dynamite are now gone; the sandstone boulder was broken up in place by a rotating sledgehammer team. One particularly nice slab of sandstone stands at the far end, marking the point where the trail leads down into the ravine.

We also now have 32 railroad ties, ready for next time. One was cut into two posts, which were set at the parking entrance. Next time I'll attach small reflectors to these.

Finally, we finished our most crucial work for the weekend: the final surveying and staking of the construction site, with concrete piling locations gridded and marked.

We're ready to break ground.

Our deepest gratitude to everyone who worked so hard. Special thanks go to our crew chiefs (who were not as grumpy as I'd expected), our cooks for a perfect campfire-cooked breakfast, and to everyone for the rather inspiring teamwork that seemed to just spontaneously happen.

Here's a video montage and some photos from our first Monastery Work Weekend, on the Korinji Images Page.

May 7, 2009

Weekend excitement

Looks like a merry crew for this weekend's work crew: 26 at last count! The response to our work invitation was much greater than anticipated.

With that many bodies, we'll not only clear our building site but also get to work on other projects. I'm looking forward to gathering some good stone from the rocky southern ravine. With any luck, we'll find enough to outline our parking area, and perhaps even get a stone bench constructed along one of our trails.

In Chicago over the last week leaves have appeared on the cottonwoods and maples lining the streets; grass and dandelions are suddenly everywhere. The season should be a bit less far along up at Korinji, but we hope to have some good, green spring photos to share next week when we post our report on the weekend.