This is part 3 of 4 – to start from the beginning please go to Rainbow Gathering, Day 1.
My husband, step-son, and I just returned home from the rainbow gathering in the Big Hole Valley area of south western Montana. I wrote most everyday while we were gone and thought I’d share our adventure.
Written on July 2nd:
Today an afternoon thunder and quick passing rain swept through camp sending many folks to take cover in their dwellings. In trade circle I exchanged some new organic socks for three AAA batteries and then a pack of Montana artisan greeting cards for three more to outfit both my own and Mike’s headlamps which were growing dim. I lent a hand for a couple of hours in the kitchen at Kid Village scrubbing pots and pans and refilling water at the dish stations, hand washing, and drinking water containers. As a hard worker I won the attention of an old rainbow there who thanked me for my service and said that more folks should be like me and then jokingly told me he would follow me home :) I enjoyed the work and was dirty, wet, and well gratified when all the heavy pots and serving platters were clean and awaiting the next meal.
We went to see Rainbow the Musical at the Granola Funk stage which very comically depicted a teenage boy’s first gathering with his mom. There was a whole cast of characters including a guy in a bear suit and two guys dressed as 6 Up (the rainbow term for police) with short shorts and big sunglasses. It was a funny play and well attended.
Searching for dinner we found a kitchen serving a hot pot of rice and curry and then met two guys along the trail handing out large, rough chunks of milk chocolate out of huge ziplock bags. Food is given freely here and it’s really quite an amazing experience to simply be able to walk around and be fed well with love. It is a great gift to have full bellies.
Written on July 3rd:
Last night we stayed out late at Granola Funk and got back to camp around 1:30 in the morning. On our way to G. Funk we stopped by the boogie pit where a huge drum circle takes place every night through dawn. Then we headed over to the stage at G. Funk to watch the Rainbow Dating Game which was followed by singer/songwriter performances that Mike signed up to be a part of. Dark 30 was the slated start time of the Dating Game and as very few folks know what time it really is things in rainbow land simply start when they start. The Dating Game consisted of rounds (more rounds than the audience had patience or want for) where one person was blindfolded and then had three mates to ask questions to and then choose from to go out on a rainbow date with. Most of the rounds had a gal choosing from three guys but there was one round with a guy choosing from three gals and one round with a girl choosing from three girls – they tried for an all male version but didn’t have enough participants to pull it off. The stage was lit by a couple of nice solar powered spotlights along with a strand of lights on either side of the stage. As the night wore on the lights faded more and more until finally just headlamps and flashlights were used. We laughed a lot during the game as bachelors sang love songs and answered the re-occurring question about what they would do if their lady love was abducted by aliens in their attempts at wooing the hearts of the blindfolded bachelorettes.
Today was my birthday (the big 34!) and inspired by a guy 2 days ago who wore a sign announcing that it was his birthday I too fashioned a sign saying, “Today is my birthday,” and strung it around my neck. I was hesitant at first to wear it thinking others would see it as an egotistical act of attention seeking but something in me was called to wear it with a deep sense of authenticity and joy and so I did. It turned out to be the best thing I could’ve done to celebrate my birthday! I received hundreds of Happy Birthday wishes, dozens of hugs, candy from 5 or 6 different people, a tangerine, a beaded necklace, and even beautiful stones. And because of the sign I wound up meeting two great new friends: Gray, a lovely woman in her 50’s and unfortunately a fellow foot pain sister and Meredith, a woman I would guess was in her late 30’s, from Louisiana here for her first gathering on her first day with her 14-year old son.
Some more highlights from today: I held a sweet little kitten exploring the woods on a leash, wove wildflowers through my bamboo hat, met two other sisters who shared my birthday, handed out mini bagels with peanut butter on the trail, and attended the Gong Show at the G Funk stage who’s MC apparently once ran for presidency. We ate dinner at main circle with a couple of our new friends and then headed off to G Funk at dark 30 for the show which consisted of songs, beat boxing, comedy, twirling light up dance movement set to a Sublime song played on guitar, and a myriad of other talents great and small.
There was another sprinkle of rain this afternoon with big fat drops dripping from the clouds for a minute or two and loud thunder which passed quickly just as it had done yesterday. And now the dark midnight sky is alive and bright with stars and the haze of the Milky Way of which I have not seen for far too long.
I also did some meditation (which I’ve been doing once or twice a day on my community meditation mat set up outside the tent off the main trail – and sometimes other folks join me and sometimes it’s just me), drank some chai, greeted folks on the road just pulling in, and pet the soft snout of a 6 Up’s (policeman’s) horse. And while walking the trail past 7 or 8 of the 6 Up Giddy-up (policeman on horses) they all wished me a happy birthday thanks to my informative sign. It seems I am in a very small, if not solo, minority of folks that don’t mind the presence of the 6 Up here at the gathering. Many are bothered by them and some folks are quite juvenile and rude to them when they pass by. The way I figure it, the 6 Up only become a nuisance when you’re doing something illegal, which many folks here are (aka smoking weed).
The pervasive presence of drugs here (mainly weed but I’m sure there are other things as well) is unfortunate and I often wonder what this gathering would be like if they were not allowed or simply discouraged. In my view there is only so much we can accomplish, only so much change we can affect, when our mind is enshrouded in a fog. If we cannot cultivate peace within ourselves when we’re clean and sober, when our mind is awake and clear, we cannot generate lasting peace anywhere else in the world. While we are a beautiful family coming together in community and caring I see too that many of those among us are quite lost, still searching for that inner peace, that true place inside to call home.