Even though the Sheriff and his deputies would be coming in a few days, no one seemed that concerned. There was too much to do. When Alice and I went to the cabin to get settled, there was a vase on the wood stove with wildflowers and a note from Morning Star that said, "Welcome to your new home."
"I don't believe we're actually here." Alice read the note again.
"Me either. I feel like I'm starting a new chapter in my life."
I swallowed a deep breath and savored the taste of fresh air, the sense that I was free of years of high school, liberated, and here I was on Glenn's farm beginning a new way of living.
We could tell the cabin had been used while we were gone by how clean it was, but Glenn knew how much we loved it and made sure it would be ours when we arrived. We threw our sleeping bags and backpacks on the bunk and hugged each other and kissed.
"I feel like I’m home," Alice said, looking around, still embracing me.
"Me, too. I'm so happy."
"I can’t believe they've gotten so much done," Alice said. "Do you think you could live in one of those little Cob houses?"
"They sure are different, but I love the idea of building our own place."
It felt weird saying "our own place," but it also felt natural and this overwhelming warmth swept through me at how our friendship had evolved.
"It would be so cool to find lots of colorful stones and put them in the mud, and our house would sparkle," Alice said, opening the front door and letting the fresh air in.
We stood in the doorway and looked out at the apple trees and the new orchard with at least a dozen small, thin fruit trees sprouting dainty green leaves, the cow I would be learning to milk nibbled grass in the pasture, the sheep in one corner of the pasture nestled in the shade of a maple tree. Gabe and Tim were putting up their tent, and my dad was sitting on the front steps of the porch talking to Morning Star, their shoulders touching. Dan and others were applying gobs of mud to the house they were working on, smoothing it with flat pieces of wood. A young man and woman in cut off jeans and tank tops were planting seeds in the garden, both kneeling on opposite sides of the bed. Paul was digging up another bed using a big red roto-tiller that bounced as it dug up the soil.
"Oh, look, they have goats," Alice said, looking at two goats on the edge of the woods, eating brush. One was black and white, the other all white. "I want to learn how to milk and take care of the goats."
While we were talking, Sun Dancer, Grey Fox, Blue Lightning and three younger Indians came down the hill that was now a pasture. I wondered who the young people were. The girl looked to be Alice's age. She wore a buckskin dress that came below her knees and was similar to the one Morning Star wore when we first met. One of the boys was tall with long dark hair and a feather rising from a blue band around his head. The other one was small and looked to be about ten or eleven. I was glad to see there were young people working with older people, and it reminded me of how it must have been on Atlantis. As they came through the pasture, I realized practically all the trees had been cut, and they had removed the old stone wall that had separated the two farms. The rocks were now in a pile next to neatly stacked logs.
Sun Dancer saw us standing in the doorway and waved, so did Grey Fox. Alice and I ran over to them to say hello. I was anxious to tell Grey Fox I had been taking guitar lessons and wanted us to play music together.
"So here you are," Sun Dancer said, smiling. "Welcome."
"Yes, we just got here. I can't believe the change," I said and glanced at the young Indians behind him.
He put his hand on the young girl's shoulder. "This is Running Brook. She's Wolf's daughter."
Alice reached for her hand. "Hi, I'm Alice, and this is Alex."
She was small with dark hair and light brown skin. She seemed shy but smiled. The taller boy did not wait to be introduced and shook my hand. "Hi. I'm Crow, and this is my brother, Hawk."
"I suppose you have heard about the confrontation that is going to happen on Wednesday," Sun Dancer said. "They’re coming to arrest us."
"What do you think is going to happen?" I asked.
"They will find out they have no right to be on our land. I told them we are a sovereign nation and when they come I will tell them that their presence is an act of war."
"War! Really? Are you going to fight?"
"Yes, with our determination not to budge from our land. Glenn and I will meet with them. My people will be here with your people, and together we will stop them and take a stand."
"I can’t believe this is happening," Alice said. "It feels like something that only happens in the movies."
"This is not a movie," Grey Fox said.
Sun Dancer then turned to the three young Indians. "Go and help with the cob house. You will have time to get to know each other. It's time to work."
When they left, Sun Dancer looked over at Gabe and Tim setting up their tent. " It’s good that your friends are joining us."
"How is Shining Star?" Alice asked.
"She is well," Sun Dancer answered.
"She's happy that our people and your people are working together," Grey Fox said, "And that White Elk’s vision is becoming a reality."
"I hope it doesn’t get bad on Wednesday when they try to arrest you and Glenn," I said.
"I know they don’t approve of our building plans—the cob houses-- and that we are working together, but there is something else they would not like if they found out," Sun Dancer said.
"What’s that?" I asked.
"What’s going on?" Alice added.
"We have turned ten acres of our land into a field for growing hemp," Sun Dancer said. "Something that is illegal in your country, but this is our country, and hemp is a valuable crop. Glenn got the seeds from a friend in California.”
"What’s hemp?" Alice said.
That surprised me because I knew she smoked pot once in a while. How could she not know about hemp?
"Do you smoke pot?" Sun Dancer asked.
"Once in awhile, not much, but yes, why are you asking?" Alice answered.
"Both come from the cannabis plant, but we are growing a variety that you don’t smoke," Sun Dancer said. "You will learn what a valuable plant it is. Your country imports more hemp products than any country in the world, but it is illegal to grow it here." Sun Dancer laughed. "That’s another thing I don't understand about America."
"But you’re growing it," Alice said.
"Right, but that would be another big issue for the sheriff if he knew about it."
Later, when I asked my dad if he knew they were growing hemp, he said he did. That’s when I learned that he had encouraged Sun Dancer to grow it, and Glenn was able to get seeds from someone he knew, then he told Alice and me how it could be used for building the cob houses, for making bio-fuel, for clothing, it was excellent to feed the livestock, it was nutritious and contained all of the essential amino acids the body needs. He told us George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew it and that it was made into rope and paper. I was blown away when he told me the first American flag was made from hemp, the Constitution was written on paper made from hemp, the original Levis jeans was made from hemp, and the word "canvas" comes from the Latin word for hemp.
"Why is it illegal if it’s such a valuable plant?" I asked. "I don’t get it."
"That’s a story in itself," my dad said. "But it was mostly from pressure from the paper, cotton and petroleum industries that it was made illegal, also the lumber mills. It was major competition, but it was also made illegal because people associated it with growing pot for smoking. That’s it in a nutshell."
When I learned all of that, I was more and more impressed with what was happening on the land and realized by sharing the land with the Indians, we were really a colony, a separate country just the way Glenn wanted.
"What do you think will happen when they come on Wednesday to arrest Glenn and Sun Dancer?" I asked.
"I don't know. It could get pretty ugly." He took one of his deep sighs.
We were ready for them when the sheriff drove up with his deputy, followed by two cars of State Police and a big black van that looked like a jail on wheels. A large group of us stood blocking the entrance to the farm and forced them to park on the narrow dirt road.
Sun Dancer and Glenn stood in the front with Grace and Shining Star next to her. Both had canes but stood straight. It surprised me that Shining Star had made it there, but her wrinkled skin seemed radiant and her eyes, as they looked straight ahead, seemed determined and defiant. My dad stood next to Morning Star while Alice and I stood next to Grey Fox. Gabe and Tim were in the row behind us with Running Brook, Crow and Hawk.
It looked like all of the Indians were there--men, women and children, some dressed in jeans and T-shirts, others had buckskin; several had feathers rising from the colorful bands on their heads. Dan also had a green band around his wild dreadlocks. He held Liz’s hand. Atticus stood next to her holding a toy dump truck.
While we stood blocking the entrance, the sheriff, two deputies and two state policemen walked towards us. Their eyes focused on the crowd.
The sheriff walked up to Glenn and Sun Dancer, then glanced at Grace and Shining Star. "You know why we’re here. You didn’t pay your fine, and you have ignored the order to take your illegal buildings down. Now, I don’t want to make a big scene, but I am asking you nicely to come with me. You’re both under arrest."
"I’m not budging," Glenn said. "You might as well just turn around and leave."
"Please, don’t make this harder than it needs to be," the sheriff said.
That’s when Sun Dancer spoke. "Do you realize you are on Abeneki land, and you have no jurisdiction here. My friends cannot be arrested. We can build anything we want on our land."
"What do you mean your land?" the sheriff said. "I know what you said about a treaty, but that don't mean nothing. As far as I'm concerned this is Glenn’s land. He pays taxes on this land, and he's in violation of our building codes." The sheriff pointed to the half built cob house. "That monstrosity is illegal and your refusal to take it down or pay your fine and ignore our ordinances is just asking for trouble."
That’s when the reporter, Jeremy Zelnick started walking up the road. Behind him, a man carrying a video camera on his shoulder was followed by another tall man, wearing a suit and holding a microphone. I couldn’t see the letters, but knew it must be the local TV station.
"We’re not doing anything illegal," Glenn said. "This is Indian land, and we’re free to live as we want, and that’s what we’re doing. We don’t recognize your town’s building codes, even though we submitted our plans as a courtesy. We don't want to hide."
The sheriff turned to his deputies and the State Police. He shook his head, shifted his weight, cleared his throat."This is nonsense. This is not Indian land, and you’re not free to decide you can do anything you want."
"They have a treaty," Grace said, stepping forward, and leaned on her cane. "They have a treaty proving this is Abeneki land. In fact, this whole part of Vermont all the way to Canada belongs to them and just because the courts refuse to hear their case, just as you refuse to hear what Sun Dancer is saying, doesn’t change anything. We haven’t broken any laws. If anything, you’re breaking international law by being on this land."
"This is nuts," the sheriff said.
Glenn shook his head, cleared his throat and said, "No, what’s nuts is how the country thinks it can go into any country in the world and take over and exploit the natural resources of that country, that’s nuts. What’s nuts is how banks can get bailed out and break laws and nothing happens, but when I want to live on this land and build a house out of natural materials and live in a way that doesn’t contribute to climate change, I’m breaking the law, and now, you’re here to arrest me, while the goddamn bankers go free. That's nuts! What’s nuts is putting people in prison for smoking pot, mostly black men, when the heads of corporations smoke pot and probably snort cocaine in their luxury apartments and hide their money in places like the Cayman Islands. That’s nuts. What’s nuts is blowing the tops off of mountains so they can get to the coal that is killing this planet, along with that idiotic Tar Sands pipeline that has to be one of the nuttiest, most dangerous things that could be done."
"Wait a minute," the sheriff interrupted.
"No, you wait a minute," Glenn said. "What we’re doing here is showing what is possible and finding ways to adapt to a changing planet." He looked at Alice and me, then at Gabe and Tim, then at Hawk and Crow and Running Brook standing just behind him and Atticus standing next to Liz.
"If things don’t change and fast, our children will not be able to have the kind of lives you have had, Sheriff, or your parents. It’s being destroyed by greed and ignorance."
Sun Dancer put his hand on Glenn’s arm to quiet him and then he spoke. "My grandfather, White Elk said, 'If we take care of the land, the land will take care of us’ and that is what we are doing here."
Jeremy wrote that down in his notebook. I wasn’t sure if the reporter from the TV station heard that or not, but I could see the man with the video camera moving it all around, taking shots of all of us standing there and the gardens, the orchard, the circle of rocks and fire pit, the half-built cob house, the round clay oven.
The sheriff took off his hat, revealing his bald head, then looked at Sun Dancer, then at Glenn. He went over and talked to the State Police while we watched, not sure what the next action would be. I wondered what they were saying as they spoke, then looked at Sun Dancer and Glenn. Grace placed her hand on Shining Star's hand as she held her cane, then she glanced at Alice and me. After a few minutes, the sheriff waddled back to us.
"We’re heading out, but this isn’t over," he said. "I’ll tell the Planning Board what happened, and they’ll have to decide what the next step is. They’ll take it to the Town Council. Maybe there will be a Town Meeting, who knows. Maybe people will say, the hell with it and let you alone. Damn it, I’m just trying to do my job, but this is the craziest thing I've ever seen."
When everybody drove off, Glenn hugged Sun Dancer, then embraced Tammy. Morning Star took Shining Star's hand and helped her walk to the fire pit, and they sat on a log to rest. Glen took Tammy's hand as they started walking back to the farmhouse. Several others hugged each other then went back to work. Hawk, Crow and Running Brook came over to Gabe and Tim. We joined them, and we all slapped our hands and high-fived.
Grace came over to Alice and me and looked at Gabe and Tim and the three Indian kids. "You’re going to get a good education here."
We walked with her back to the farmhouse. She walked slowly, leaning on her cane.
"Do you think they will be back?" Alice asked.
“ Probably,” she said. “They will try to enforce their laws, and it could get pretty ugly, but they will not stop what is happening here. It will become a big story.”
When we got back to the house, Grace said she needed to rest and would see us later. Before she went into the house, she took a weary breath then said, “You're on a journey.”
“ I know,” I said.
When she left, Alice and I sat down on the porch steps and looked around. She took my hand and squeezed it. She didn’t have to speak because I could tell she knew what Grace meant and was as happy as I was to be there.
Dan and several other people continued stomping in the mud and working on the cob house. Gabe and Tim raked a bed while Paul roto-tilled and several other people were planting in another bed. I closed my eyes and in my imagination saw what I knew Chaordia would look like one day: lush gardens being harvested, wheelbarrows filled with potatoes, cabbages, onions, tomatoes, trees bursting with fruit, the winter wheat bending in the breeze, hay bales piled in the barn, a dozen small shelters with plants growing on the roofs, some of them clay cob houses, some of them yurts. Everywhere, all kinds of flowers—cosmos, sunflowers, day lilies, huge green bushes and the sound of birds in the woods, paths lined with flowers going to different parts of the farm, a pond where people swam and bathed, the big long Commons house where everyone ate.
When I opened my eyes, Alice was also looking around. I wondered what she was thinking, but it felt good to be with her, holding her hand. I remembered her saying how she wasn’t sure she could bring children into the world and understood what she meant at the time, but I wondered if she would change her mind now that we were here.
I thought about the Atlantis books we had read and remembered how people lived before the Bendula, how lush fields and orchards provided enough food for everyone, how people shared. No one was rich or poor. There was abundance and money wasn't necessary. Selflessness was the greatest virtue. Greed did not exist. And here we were sharing this land with the Abenki Indians, learning their old ways while they were learning new ways from us, just like White Elk and Grace had said. I remembered reading Edgar Cayce's prediction that Atlantis would rise again and wondered if others started doing what we were doing, it would be like Atlantis.
We were evolving, growing a new way of living on a changing planet. I knew we were at the beginning of creating Chaordia Farm and that it would take time and hard work, that there would be obstacles, but like Grace said, they were tests of our determination. At the same time, I wondered what the town council would do. Would the sheriff and the state police come back and try to stop us? Would the Bendula?
Just then, Alice poked my arm and shook me out of my thinking. "What?" I asked.
"Look," she said, pointing up at the sky.
High above us, two eagles were gliding in a wide circle. The sky was blue, not a cloud in sight. The bright, warm sun was glowing. Watching the eagles, I remembered Grace telling the story of the Phoenix rising from the ashes. Alice took my hand and squeezed, and in that silent moment, knew she felt what I was. Glenn's grandfather's dream was coming true.