Love Your Mother Earth 2012

Every June we pack up the car and head out for the Love Your Mother Earth Festival near Missoula, MT. 
It is four days of music and dancing, swimming and catching up with friends from all across the state, eco-workshops and mountain scenery, playing dress up and flying kites, eating, drinking, and being completely merry!  We look forward to it so very, very much each year.  And each year it is an absolutely fabulous good time. 
It is a really positive, exuberant, and spiritual event for me.  It is such a blessing on so many levels to be able to gather in the mountains to celebrate joy and connectedness with so many other kind, free souls.  To celebrate our beautiful planet and how we all depend upon it and are connected by it.
People are so generous and care so much for each other, like one big family for the most part.  You need a tent? We have a spare.  You need water?  I have a jug right here.  You're cold?  Take this scarf I'm not using.  Too hot?  Come sit under my shade tree.  It is such a loving, upful , playful community.   It always makes me think of  Mathew 18:3 "And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  In general the hippies I know are a group of people who have not lost the wonder in their eyes and hearts.  Who have not completely forgotten or been removed from the innocence and simple joy of childhood.  Who have kept some of that essence intact into adulthood. 
Sitting on the smooth, round stones, in the refreshingly cold river, under the blazing Montana sun I more than once had to remark that if this isn't nice, I don't know what is.  Hopping and twirling on my bare feet, on the cool, damp grass, to the warm, happy tones of the guitar, mandolin, fiddle, surrounded by other twirling, happy people makes me filled up with peace and joy beyond adequate description.  It recharges my soul.  Dancing outdoors for me is an act of communion.  I never fail to feel the spirit within me swell, to feel the connectedness and unity with the mountains, the sky, friends and strangers, and the Creator of it all. 
Some other miscellaneous highlights from this year:

The Gypsy Lumberjacks playing "Open Country," by Bela Fleck, a song which makes my heart soar and which Matt had never heard before.
Building a solar oven out of a pizza box, black paper, aluminum foil, and plastic wrap and then using it to heat up our Caribbean au gratin casserole.  (As a sub-highlight I would also mention that we used the last of our squash harvested in October 2011 in the dish instead of sweet potatoes as well as some of our garden fresh spinach.  It is a tradition of ours to bring as much homegrown food to LYME as possible as it seems only fitting.)  The presenter had a larger solar oven that he was using to bake cookies.  He also went over a number of styles including a mason jar cooker perfect for beans and rice that Matt wants to try out sometime.
Watching this fellow doing yo-yo tricks that were truly astonishing.  It really made me want to get a yo-yo.  It was sort of like he was juggling it was that impressive of hand-eye coordination and skill.  Matt brought his juggling balls and got to do a little team juggling with a random fellow juggler.  He really likes to duo juggle, but not too many people can join in with him.  I sure can't! 
I made this cape (and nine others) for a different music festival.  Now that I have the dancing cloak we hardly use them so I gave them to my friend Hannah to share with her crew as they really were into dressing up in costume.  I kept running into people wearing my capes and it made me really happy to see them in use again.
A synchronized group release of hundreds of floating paper lanterns into the starry night sky.  It is enchanting to see all the little glowing lanterns drift up and away into the heavens.  It is neat when just one is released, but when hundreds are it is spectacular.  (For the record, it had rained heavily that day and we were not under any burn restrictions and the lanterns are 100% biodegradable.)   Though we'd seen them many times we'd never released one ourselves before this year.
Children having "seaweed" fights with their dad with clumps of stringy river plants.
My friend Casey and her sister showed up completely unexpectedly on Saturday much to my surprise and delight.  She usually comes with us, but I thought should couldn't this year.  All of the sudden she's just strolling into camp "Hey guys!"   I was sure glad she made it, even if just from one day.  And my friend, Carl, from college who just coincidentally camped right next door
Sitting on the guardrail overlooking the railroad tracks and watching train after train go by.  The rumbling and long whistles seemed somehow suiting to our gathering.  The freedom of the rails have long appealed to the hipster, bohemian, beat sort of crowd.  There is some freedom there that can't be explained I think.  The echoes off the mountains and overpasses stretched out and amplified the trains rhythm of clatter.  It was neat to see the engineers enjoying themselves, too.  Some would slow the train to a crawl as it passed the festival area and lean out the window waving at people, watching the dancers.  Others would lay on the horn all the way past the campground as the hippies cheered and waved at them.  I made sure to play every song I know that has anything to do with trains during an early morning sing-a-long with some of our camp neighbors.
My group of gal-pals are big into hula hooping and fire dancing.  On Thursday night they (and some other folks I didn't know) put on a performance by one of the smaller stages.  They had flaming hula hoops, poi, and staffs which they twirled, threw, swung, and all sorts of crazy tricks.  I don't know how they don't set themselves on fire.  But, they don't.  There was even a little boy (maybe 10-12?) taking part in the show.  I thought he was pretty brave to follow up some of those adult as he was clearly less experienced, but he did a very good job.  Some of these dancers are insanely flexible, agile, and talented.  One of them would kneel, then lay back until she was laying flat on her back with her knees splayed out to the side all the while twirling flaming poi over her face.  It was insane.  I prefer to watch.  I'll leave the insanity to them.
Jumping in the river so cold that it made every single person gasp or cry out with minor (refreshing) shock.  I just sat in that river for quite a long time.  Its amazing how even just getting your feet wet made a huge difference as far as how hot you felt.  Jumping all the way in was like natural air conditioning.

Photo credit to Jonnie Egeland.

Watching the stage artists turn a blank canvas into a stunning work of art during the course of a day.  I am an artist, but these people really are impressive craftsmen.  I can't hold a candle to them.  And they do it with people watching them!  They were doing blacklight paint at night which made the paintings look almost completely different.  It was very interesting to watch how they evolved.

They had one of those aerial silks acrobats that uses long ribbons of cloth to tie themselves up in various ways, upside down, splits, flips, etc.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about here is a random video I pulled off youtube.  I find this sort of preformance SO impressive.  Those ladies are always ripped.  I mean, think how much muscle--both arm and leg--that it takes to do that!
An insane storm rolled in quietly on Saturday and built up to what seemed to be a hurricane.  At first everyone seemed this think "Oh, its just a little sprinkle."  Soon enough though everyone was running for cover.  We ended up with quite a little posse hiding out under our gazebo.  But when the wind picked up even that no longer provided cover.  The rain was flying horizontally every which way.  Some poorly staked tents blew down, rolled over, or took flight altogether.  Hail started to pelt the ground.  It got a little loud.  You couldn't see across the camp ground or the nearby mountains.  Then in passed just in time for the music we'd been waiting to see and it was lovely again.
Believe it or not, this chair was actually under the gazebo....but without walls it may as well have been out in the open during the "hurricane" section of the storm.
Love Your Mother is a huge effort to organize I am sure, but they (Earthbound Productions) do such a good job of it.  The bands are always outstanding, even if I've never heard of them before.  Many are local, or at least regional, and they always seem to be having a blast.  We talked to a few of the Lumberjacks after their set and they had nothing but good things to say.  The recycling efforts at LYME are just outstanding.  There is not a garbage can that doesn't have recycling bins beside it and there is a whole team of people who collect, sort, and haul it off.  I saw the bags of trash and the bags of recycling as they were and the latter was definitely the more abundant.  There are regular reminders to pick up any trash you see and to make sure to recycle.  The workshops are diverse and interesting covering topics from juggling 101 to growing your own mushrooms, candle-making, reflexology, yoga, and more.  Many, if not most, of the presenters are Montana folks.  There are water barrels everywhere so that no one dances themselves into dehydration.  And if they did, well, then there are medical tents and professionals to help them.  It is a great festival. 


  1. how cool! I'm impressed with all the entertainment talent.

    What instrument do you play (your reference to a sing-along)?

    1. Guitar. Strumming chords with a tiny bit of finger-picking. Basically I just love to sing so I had to learn something to accompany myself singing. I also tinker with the flute, but not terribly well. I am still in the beginner band book. I don't really do that in public yet, but someday.... : )

      It was awesome. People are so amazing in what they are gifted at.

  2. I really loved this post. Shelley, a young revolutionary, launched fire balloons. Your fire lanterns are what he launched in a protest over the politics in England. He wanted a revolution like the one in America and France. He was pretty free-ranging himself. He wrote Sonnet: To a Balloon Laden with Knowledge.

    1. Thanks so much. I really enjoyed that sonnet and I'd never heard of it before. It was quite like the lanterns we released. The descriptive terms are so eloquent. And that's a pretty swell title, too! Thanks again and have a great day!

  3. Like to read your perspective on this wonderful event!!! Anyway you'd post the pic of me and the Manichean tiki torch shot on fb? Thanks for sharing love!

    1. It was pretty wonderful. Sure, I'll post the photos today.

  4. Does your friend Carl happen to be an Anderson with magnificent facial hair?

    1. Oh, yeah. That's cool. How do you know Carl?

    2. Lol, we went to high school together. What a small world...

    3. It IS a small world. Awesomely freaky small sometimes.


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