Ironwood Maine Web Update

“When it snows, you have two choices: shovel or make snow angels.”


On Tuesday, Ironwood was hit by a major snow storm. We received ten inches of snow! In some areas there are snow drifts that measure almost five feet! 

All around campus we are shoveling, throwing salt, and making snow angels. We are excited for the holiday season and preparing for Hanukkah. On Sunday, the Farmhouse is planning to go to a tree farm to cut down our Christmas tree! The Frye girls recently cut down their own Christmas tree for the girls bunk from the Ironwood forest. On Saturday, Frye residents will be tracking animals through the snow in a thicket of hemlock and balsam fir trees. 

This week in the Farmhouse Wilderness group we learned about dormancy in tree species. We were in the woods and observed a dormant American Beech tree. We learned about the natural occurrences that transition trees into dormancy. When trees become dormant, they do not grow any leaves. Dormancy in tree species can be a metaphor for dormancy in a resident’s program. When a resident is at a stand-still or a stalling point, they are not moving forward or backward in their program. In forest dormancy, it snows…a lot! In a dormant program, a resident burdens themselves with the weight of “snow-like” feelings. This can be emotional build up, disconnection from their peers, or disengagement in family therapy. With a dormant season, someone clears the paths with a shovel, and the sun comes out and begins to melt the snow. In a dormant program, the “sun” can be external and internal sources of motivation, a new mindset, or a fresh flood of gratitude. The resident also has to shovel out the “snow” that they have accumulated in the dormant season. When the student ends their dormant season there is new life, fast growth, and a spring of joy. 

This week in DBT we completed a holiday themed mindfulness activity. Residents were given colored yarn, scissors, and a sliver of a paper towel roll. With the direction of one of the therapists, students crafted meaningful mini hats in the colors of yarn that they chose. The mini hats have little pom-poms on top too! We plan to put them on the Farmhouse Christmas as handmade ornaments and seeing them through the month of December will remind us of what was shared and learned in this group!

We sure are experiencing a white Christmas season thus far! I hope that you can go outside and observe the dormancy in your own backyard. Possibly reflect on any dormant periods that you have had in your own life, and how you came out of the dormant season, stronger and better than before. Stay warm and we wish the happiest of holidays to you all!

*This week’s update was written by a senior level resident who has completed her home visit and is close to graduating our program.  We are very pleased for her, as she has accomplished so much this year…more confident, grateful, compassionate, resilient and trusting than everAND PROUD!  Wishing all family members back home a wonderful weekend.