Ironwood Maine Web Update

“There is nothing permanent except change.”


             Ironwood has been busy as a thriving beehive this week, from two home visits, and two graduations to flipping the house to accommodate the changes in groups. Summer is slowly winding down and hints of autumn have begun to peek out from between the honeycombs of our hive. Daily harvests from the garden, students preparing to take their next big step, therapeutic groups that stir our brains, and new weekly chore assignments are just some of the things that have happened, across all of Ironwood campuses over the past week. Change is in every atom of oxygen we breathe in…and then out again. 

            Both campuses haven been busy, busy, this week. At the Farmhouse, last week’s send ups have partially settled in and the farmhouse kids flipped the house after Saturday’s deep clean; this involved those living upstairs to move all of their things downstairs in a bag made up of their mattress pad and all of those living downstairs to haul their things up the stairs to upstairs. Sunday was a slow day full of good things to eat. From our public speaking event, we were educated on the creation and impact of the P-51 Mustang in WWII. Monday brought a graduation and many things to harvest from the farmhouse garden—proven by my own PM snack of an entire delicious tomato from the hoop house. Emmet, our culinary director came in on Tuesday and made a delicious dinner consisting of a choice between eggplant parmesan and chicken sandwiches. Both had tomato, lettuce, and cheeses. Wednesday’s food order and house meeting exercised our bodies and minds. Another student graduated on Thursday and a nice bit of horseplay in horsemanship made for a confident and excited Barn Crew. I can hardly wait to see what will happen during sports and music later today! Down the hill, Frye’s garden is also thriving; staff and students are greeted by 5 foot tall sunflowers anytime they are near the garden. Furthermore, recent promotions in level have brightened morale that was previously grayed by the onslaught of bugs and the rain from Hurricane Henri. Finally, Sunday’s wilderness and Thursday’s mini-barn enrichment (horsemanship, chickensmanship, and goatsmanship) prepared the Frye kids for all the wild and intense things that happened on their campus this week. 

            The farm house experiential group this week was a very important group. The topic was “Personal Beliefs and How They Affect Us as People.” This topic is something I’ve worked on often at Ironwood over the past 260 days I’ve been here. I am proud to say that I dove in head first after I tested the waters. The therapist who ran the group, Jacki, described it as follows: “Everyone will draw and or write out how personal beliefs affect them on their own piece of paper. While you all are doing that, one of you will sneak up to the paper hanging by the stairs and write their personal beliefs. After everyone has finished, we will pass around the paper and everyone will check off others personal beliefs that apply to then. Then, we will talk about it!” The following personal beliefs discussed in the groups were not about politics, religion, or our favorite colors—they were thoughts and feelings written down in their rawest form. At first, I struggled with the idea of putting my ideas, dreams, thoughts, and feelings for everyone to see. After a few minutes I got over that struggle. I wrote fifteen to twenty of my own personal beliefs. These ranged from the ever relatable “sometimes I feel ugly” to how my levels of confidence from moment to moment affect my ability to trust in and have interpersonal relationships. In short, I consider myself a very private person and this fantastic group allowed me to be open about many things on a level I normally reserve for my therapist. The final conversation of how these beliefs affect all parts of your life ended the group in a stronger place than it began. 

            The biggest metaphorical example of the amount of change that happened at the farmhouse this week would have to be the garden. Monday’s staff-enrichment at the garden led by Ron was a great example of this. The garden is huge, and we worked to weed and prepare about two thirds of it. A large amount of kale, herbs, and tomatoes from the hoop house were harvested. A massive (about 18 inch long and 3 inch wide) zucchini was picked, and flowers from our bountiful flower garden at the far end were picked. It wasn’t the work itself but the feelings I got from working and the idea behind the work that was very meaningful for me. I learned something new when Ron taught me how to pick corn and felt calm and centered as I weeded the lettuce patch. The group gave me a sense of keeping something other than myself alive and healthy; this, I appreciated a lot. Change was everywhere at Ironwood this past week. It was in Monday’s staff enrichment and experiential, all the signs of students moving forward (graduations, level promotions, home visits, etc), and big campus wide events such as house meeting and flipping the house. With these changes, and time spent preparing for change came a strong will from all present to move forward and get stuff done. This week was a good week and Ironwood will keep the wheel turning as we continue into the month of September and into a changing season.