July 20, 2009

A groundbreaking weekend

The grassy clearing on the hill is now, incredibly, a building site. Nearly 50 holes have been dug, and after two days of at times backbreaking labor they contain foundation pilings of concrete and rebar.

Our volunteer work crew was nothing short of inspiring. On Saturday more than 300 bags of concrete and 800 feet of rebar were carried by hand from road-side pallets down through deep forest to the remote building site. Hundreds of buckets of water were pumped uphill from the stream in the valley, thanks to the last-minute genius (and available pump) of one of the crew; we had expected a bucket brigade to be necessary for this.

With all the foundation holes excavated and more than half of them filled with curing concrete, darkness finally forced an end to the day. Saturday evening saw the usual gatherings as the crew was released from duty. A campfire fueled by recently cleared maple and oak was the center of one gathering near the south entrance. Another large group descended onto the nearby town for dinner. Our Russian-speaking contingent was discovered holding a separate party - not to be missed - gathered in a quiet circle on grass above the site. By midnight, all had retired except the usual visiting coyotes and owls.

Sunday morning came early, and saw a mad rush to complete the pouring of concrete. There was some concern that our mix would run short. Amazingly, the job was done...with not a single bag to spare out of the 300 plus. In the meantime our parking area received its first load of road gravel: Korinji now has an entrance drive usable as such.

Today, most of us are recovering, nursing sore backs and arms. But as I write I notice with amazement that many of the crew have showed up at the Chicago dojo tonight for martial arts training. These hardcore volunteers, who for two days exhausted themselves carrying and pouring concrete, are tonight practicing Aikido.

After this weekend, Korinji's property has been transformed. We now have the beginnings of a place to which they lead. We know exactly where our gate, and our main house, will be, and what it will look like walking there in the future. From the ravine below the building site, one can now look up to see a row of grey concrete pilings jutting up from the grass like rows of blunt teeth.

With the intense spirit our crew displayed this past weekend, I have no doubt that a roof and walls will soon also be seen through the leaves.

Korinji's Images page has been updated with video from this past weekend.

1 comment:

Chieftain said...

I am truly impressed by the volunteer's dedication and the on-site innovations to bring water to the construction site.

The mysterious black dog adds to the scene.