So what experiences in life have brought Penny here, thrilled to be a part of Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage?
Penny was born and brought up in Washington, DC, and in a funny way her experience from the beginning was rural. She lived in a duplex (much like the ones we will have, but made of brick) and across the oak-lined road from her house was a fenced estate on a lawned-hill called the Chinese Embassy. Who knows who lived there, but deep in a gulch behind that fence was the wild woods that in time connected to Rock Creek. She snuck in through a hole in the fence and played Indian there. There were beaten trails that wound through the tangle. She made encampments in the roots of the overturned trees and molded clay bowls from the sticky clay along the side of the stream. She likes the earth.
When she was in fifth grade, Penny went to a school in Virginia that was surrounded by fields, rather like our site. She adores tended green fields.
Her aunt in Connecticut remembers her fascination with farm animals. When Penny was four, she came to visit her aunt and could scarcely be pried away from the bottom of the garden that bordered on Farmer Brown's fields. She likes the smell of the barn and the warmth and rhythm of domesticated animals, even chickens.
In the summers, she ran barefoot over the rocks and into the woods at Ocean Point in Maine. How glorious to be outside all summer, and how marvelous was Maine and the ocean. There three generations lived together in a simple house for two months. Penny’s father, who was never up in the mornings before she left for school, presided over a full breakfast table with the whole family seated around it. And they were all there together working on stone walls, washing dishes by hand, kayaking, swimming, cleaning the house. Ocean Point, a planned community, even had a common building that was called the “casino,” where plays were staged, community suppers eaten (everyone arriving with their baskets of silverware), and where in the darkness of the great porches, the young teens hung out in the evening. She likes being with “family” of all ages going about their own business of enjoying life.
At the Virginia day school, she had a music director from Ireland, and he put on musicals and everyone was included. No need to say one couldn't really sing. Everyone sang. They did Noah's Flude, Christmas pageants, something that had Nebuchadnezzar in it that was all in Latin. You may know him. He came to Cambridge and started the Christmas Revels. His name was Jack Langstaff. She likes belonging to things she wouldn't have the inclination to initiate.
When it came time to go to college, Penny chose to go to New England and see where her roots had been rooted. Her mother was Connecticut to New York City. Her father was from south of Boston. Both families had been about in New England for a long time, and she probably could have ignored it, except they named her for one of those early people and she got hooked (in her angst of wondering who she was) to look into her namesake’s life to see why she could have been named after her. Her namesake was born in England and emigrated at age five to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her life has fascinated Penny. She has one of her wedding shoes, for goodness sake. This is a formative event and Penny has no idea how it brought her to the ecovillage, but history, understanding women's lives, interests her deeply. It prods her to travel and do research. She loves puzzles.