The Ozark Area Community Congress, otherwise known as OACC, meets every year to share ideas, knowledge, and to celebrate the Ozarks. Though the event has taken place at the Ananda Kanan yoga retreat center for years, it used to be at a different location somewhere in the Ozark bioregion each time. It attracts environmentalists, healers, and friendly country folks from all corners of the Ozarks.
This year was their 32nd annual meeting and I drove to Willow Springs Missouri to attend. As child my father took me to OACC just about every year. I didn’t appreciate the workshops and collective group that got together back then, I just wanted to play with Rose, a friend who I saw only once a year. As I became a teenager Rose and I kept in touch with letters but eventually we grew apart.
As an adult it is still partly about meeting with like-minded people and talking over breakfast or late into the night around the campfire. But it is also nice to attend workshops. In past years I have lead a workshop. Most workshops are organized and held by the people attending the event. As people arrive on Friday they write descriptions of workshops they want to teach on pieces of paper and stick them to the ever changing schedule board. The people who come to OACC make it what it is; therefore, it is different every year.
But this year was entirely different because I am a mother now. The weekend became keeping Zane happy in a strange environment with strange people. My son started out by getting car sick during our four hour long drive. When we arrived at the lovely Anana Kanan yoga retreat center, the opening circle event had just begun. We stood in a large circle outside the dining hall with a grand old white oak tree as a key member of the group. I tried hard to listen to the announcements but Zane was anxious to run and play. His anxiousness did not fade for dinner or bedtime. He ran around outside and through the dining hall giggling. Though most people thought it was cute, I found it to be exhausting.
The second day Zane was still disturbed by the strange event. He refused to eat the delicious vegetarian food in the dinning hall; it just wasn't like meal time at home. Though he was interested in the other children there, he just didn't have the social skills to play. Most of the day I spent following him up and down the stairs between the kid's playroom area and the dining hall.
I was only able to attend one workshop on primitive skills and edible plants. Bo Brown from the First Earth Wilderness Schoolin Springfield Missouri taught us how to knap flint, make stone tools, weave rope out of dogbane fibers, and how to make a fire using a bow drill successfully. The we went on a short plant lore walk in which everyone taught everyone else what they knew about the plants we came across. At was a great break from the kid.
When I returned to being a mom, I found Zane even more disturbed than before. I tried desperatly to feed him but he still didn't want to eat. He suddenly fell asleep while eating dinner and so let him snooze in my arms while I watched the annual open-mic talent show. Though there were many talented people, my favorite performance was singer/songwriter Stan, the Eco Troubadour. His songs were fun and geared towards kids but deep in meaning and full of information. During one of his songs, Zane woke up and immediately started clapping.
As we got ready to go on Sunday, I realized I had missed out on many much of the weekend. It would have been easier if Zane had been older or if I had brought along a helper. But as it was, I had to stay in mom mode all weekend.
While I packed the car to go, a tattered butterfly landed on Zane and rested there. I coaxed it onto my finger. Two children came by and wanted to hold it as well. We all took turns letting the delicate creator rest on our fingers. It brought great delight to all involved. And I was reminded why I go to OACC every year. Moments like this is what it is all about!