Carrying the Community | St. Lawrence University Adirondack Semester

Carrying the Community

by: Anna Dieffenbach
Marly Davies
&
Ryan Schlosser

“Ya’ll are strange,” declared our Assistant Director Kim as we sat around the dinner table. The twelve of us energetically discussed our upcoming plan to portage a canoe up the nearby Mt. Arab. The idea was no doubt strange, but we’d been dedicated to the plan since our canoe trip in August. We had already postponed the portage…was it three times? This time, we were “full send,” ready to wake up from our mass sleepover in the community yurt at 6:30 a.m. and power through any weather.

Watch alarms sounded to the pounding of raindrops on the roof. Slowly, everyone trickled into the kitchen (except Kim and Will, who were sleeping in) to find a delicious layout of breakfast burrito ingredients made by Natalie and Ned. All of our groggy faces were invisible to each other, as the sun had yet to rise. Caffeine was a must. To satisfy the need, Ned crafted us an energy-packed batch of Ned-Bull (his homemade, certainly-not-FDA-approved energy drink).

After this caffeine and carb packed meal, we suited up in all our warm layers and hiking boots, many of the ladies sporting space buns and glitter. We set out paddling across the lake, spirits high as we yelled to each other through the hazy mist covering “Lake Massacreepy.” When we arrived at the other side, we chose which canoe would be our companion for the twelve-mile journey up Arab and set off along the trail.

This adventure is just one of many self-directed experiences we have fostered for ourselves during the semester. As time goes on, our initiative is stronger for finding our own fun. This past Friday, we all got together with our yurt mates to carve pumpkins for this week’s Arcadian fall fest. Each yurt now displays a jack o’lantern out front, featuring silhouettes of gnomes, ADK symbols, canoers, and a classic spooky grin. Luckily, our supply of candles has increased with the demand for lighting our jack o’lanterns and our tables. Most meals are now eaten by candlelight because the shorter, cloudy days have left our solar batteries depleted of power.

Our village’s drive to create new opportunities for itself can be seen not only through carrying a canoe up a mountain but also through our internship placements as well. Sadly, our time at Arcadia is quickly approaching its end. Thankfully, each student now knows her or his internship partner, so we all have big things to look forward to after Thanksgiving break. Many of us will be interning with brand-new partners—an exciting experience for us that will perhaps open doors for future Arcadians as well. The genesis of new internships in the past has led to the many steady annual internship partners we currently have. We’re excited to share a list of this year’s internships with all who read this fine blog. Drum roll please….

Michael will be working at North Country Public Radio in Canton, so keep your ears open for a story from him in the upcoming weeks. Emily will be spending her time at the North Country School and will be the first ever Adirondack Semester intern there. Meredith and Eliza will both be staying and helping out at a homestead near Canton where they will get to spend much of their time with goats! Anna will be working at Massawepie with property with Ben Geiger (the property superintendent), doing everything from learning to drive a tractor to making bird houses to welding. Exploring options beyond past internships, Ned will be working with the magazine Adirondack Explorer in Saranac Lake. Ryan also found a new internship and will be pounding metal alongside Tupper Lake blacksmith Dan King. Jordan will be working at SUNY ESF’s research center in Newcomb, learning firsthand how to do fieldwork. Raina was introduced to her internship partner at the story slam and will be spending her time at the Northern Lights School in Saranac Lake. The story slam also brought Marly to her internship, as she chose to work with the Adirondack Center for Writing, also a new placement. Natalie is doing two internships in one, splitting her time between North Country Creamery and Mace Chasm, getting to know cows and produce very well. Lastly, Nicole will be staying at another homestead, learning about meditation, Buddhism, and environmental activism all in one.

As we dive into our final assignments and start contacting our internship partners, we also build our excitement for snow finally sticking to the ground. When we summited Arab, we were greeted by ice-covered branches and snow-covered boots. Our yells and cheers echoed through the white mist, and our rejuvenated energy sent us running and sliding back down the mountain. These moments of excitement and joy will carry us through the final weeks here at Arcadia, as we record the first “snow stick,” cozy up by the fire, and brainstorm new adventures to make the most of this semester’s experience. We began our semester back in August by portaging throughout our canoe trip. Now, almost three months later, we’ve come full circle and portaged once again, but this time as the strong and caring community of twelve that we have become.