Whoa! We’ve been fairly stationary in Orange County for months. This weekend blew me back into the family and tea bus explosion world. The Herb Folk Gathering is a yearly herbalism conference at Mormon Lake, AZ with plant walks, workshops, classes, an herbal marketplace, live music, and a masquerade ball. Bringing together a strong group of herbalists, practitioners, students, enthusiasts, friends, re-wilders, and more, this event is made for sharing knowledge and connecting people and plants. The community of people here embraced us, shared with us, and cultivated an amazing community in the few short days we were there.
The zone we set up was an experiment in construction. When I built my roof rack six years ago, I designed it with telescoping aluminum poles that could be used to hang a shade cloth (like a parachute) or a tarp. I’ve used the setup minimally, but mostly because I wasn’t fully happy with it. Brainstorming with my fellow nomad/structure-builder friend Abigail beforehand, helped me solidify a new structure plan. Upon arriving at Herb Folk. I telescoped out the three aluminum poles, added two more telescoping PVC poles out from each of those. This gave me three flexible ribs that extend outwards and curve down to rebar pounded into the ground. Reminiscent of the cheap PVC greenhouse designs, this structure was rigid and strong. Due to rain in the forecast, We attached a tarp over this, and my fun orange and white parachute atop it, mostly to hide the ugly tarp. The great thing about this setup, is that the ribs triple telescope back into themselves and store inside the roof rack!
Inside the structure, we laid out a tarp, upon which was rugs, cushions, a table, herb/tea books, tinctures of the day, a café table with chairs, and more. It rained once or twice most days we were there, and each time we had to tighten the zone down, trying to make sure our rugs, cushions, and books remained dry. As a comfortable zone, with hot beverages and offering a commercial-free zone, we became a little hub for the event. People immediately felt at home, with many folks spending large portions of their free time there.
I heard in previous years it had been hard for folks to even find hot water for their tea (the general store offers microwave-your-own), so the tea bus was welcomed just for the fact that we had hot water available 24 hours a day. And because this was an event full of herbal enthusiasts, much of the tea we served was just pouring hot water on participants’ own herbs.
Especially in the evenings, the tea zone became a hot spot for in depth, vulnerable, and philosophical discussions. I had so much fun participating in, and listening to the amazing conversations being had. I can’t stress how much I love this aspect of the tea bus. The zone created allows people to be vulnerable (partly because I am being vulnerable in inviting the world into my home/space). I give many thanks for so many who participated in this way! The zone also became a spot for people to nap, do different crafts, identify mushrooms, read, and more. What fun!
Joining me here at Herb Folk were two dear friends, Ally and Califa. They, along with some wonderful guests, helped out by washing dishes, serving tea, helping keep the area clean, and being darn good hosts. Ally has helped out with dozens of tea parties and events, and knows the system well. Her help here, as well as many, many other places, has been incredible and I want to send a special shout out of love to her. Califa has been creating specialty drinks in her “regular” life, so she shared some of her blended teas with the bus and the guests, as well as a couple tea cups hand-crafted by her father – what a delight!!! Having extra help made my job a lot easier (although I still worked my butt off, and only attended less than one class).
There were two wonderful little girls, Mia and Carla, who came for tea every day multiple times (One Peace Tea, and one Fairytale Tea, please!). When they heard that many of our cups had walked away (as they often do), they took it upon themselves to make MISSING posters for the tea cups for us to hang up around the event. Plus, they went to a thrift store and bought us several more mugs. We ended up leaving with more mugs than we came with. What sweethearts!
A big thanks to Mountain Rose Herbs for giving us tickets to Herb Folk; to Wolf and Kiva for creating and hosting it, and for having us; to Ally and Califa for making it all run smoothly; to all the guests who lent a hand; and to all the wonderful folks who shared tea, tinctures, salves, deodorizing sprays, food, lip balm, a 5 gallon jug, and soooo much more – so much love to you all!!!
All in all, we served about 1,000 cups of tea over the course of the four days here. Whew!
From here, we don’t know where we’re going! How Fun!