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 the world in 1971

Susan Price, about 1970

Green Valley :: Was Buck Brook Magic?

Responding to yesterday's entry, Bubba says, "I think what Helen was suggesting was that you live and create the mythology instead of understand it." For him the land made magic -- milk into butter, sap into syrup, children into people. I have to ask myself: Did I feel any of that magic? Is my storytelling here merely a bunch of amusing anecdotes about the early 70s or am I reaching for something more "mythic"?

Unlike Bubba, I wasn't well integrated into the orderly chaos of farm life or the rhythms of nature. I avoided the garden, I shied away from the maple syrup rotations, and I was terrified of cows. On my single bike-riding foray, I was attacked and bitten by a dog -- twice, both going toward the village of North Branch and again returning home. I kept secret stashes of M&Ms and escaped whenever possible to the Roscoe Diner for their menu of evil delights.

If I were to hang my hat on any mythic structure, it would be Joseph Campbell's "hero's journey" -- if you buy the premise that we're all the heroes of our own lives.

Green Valley was the passage between Chicago and Rochester. In Chicago I was a girl with beautiful ideas gleaned from literature and religion. I intended to make a grand contribution to the good of humanity but didn't have a clue how. I was desperately underemployed. My love life was going nowhere.

Rebirthed out the other side, I was married and soon enrolled in graduate school in Community Health -- a complete career redirection.

The journey in between was your typical dark odyssey. Oh, sure, there was fairy dust, but the trip also had its share of Ogres, Sirens, and chattering Serpents. 24 hours a day of challenging children, close quarters, mix-and-match relationships, rural isolation and too much alcohol made for scary moments. I was going to say that Paul played the role of a classic Guardian figure for me. In part it's true, because I learned a lot from him, but he was no Obe Wan Kenobi. His position of authority let me hide when I should have been led to experience more. Like all imperfect creatures, he was interested in my growth only insofar as it brought me closer to him.

Does a baby think she will be in the womb forever? Did Jonah try to make a home for himself in the whale? Somehow I thought it would go on forever... I would be the headmaster's woman, cooking sewing, baking bread, doing the bookkeeping, diligent at figuring out ways to get kids to read... And then poof, Paul bought us a car and we drove away.

But I've gotten ahead of my story...

Green Valley Entries



Green Valley School was a residential program for troubled kids and a sixties-style commune for its staff. I arrived at Green Valley School in Orange City Florida in February 1971. Around May, Lee Ricketts and I drove 10 kids north to the Catskills to start our own little farm adjacent to GVS' Buck Brook Farm.  I left the Green Valley family, with my future husband, in August of 1972.


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