“Breakfast, sleepyheads!” a voice calls from the hallway. We roll out of bed, dizzy like hibernating Mumi trolls and stumble down the stairs, late for breakfast. Knowing the effort it takes to feed 30 people at 8 in the morning, we’re fairly embarrassed. The gang smiles and bounce our muffled excuses. Slowly I focus and notice the bowl in the serving area. Its Muesli-morning: Yoghurt, oats and fruit. The morning might just be off to a good start, despite the forecast.
After breakfast, the grounds crew shovels snow. We’re clearing the paths down to Farrel House – the study chalet. Following, we check the repair list and start fixing broken clothes racks in the stairwell. A student moans over the shabby tools: “Don’t we have a hand drill?, these screw are too tight” … I grumpily decline, but to my surprise find that he has a point: The screws really are stuck. No wonder the rack hasn’t been fixed. We dig out a bad boy concrete drill and mount it with a metal tip. One by one, we grind the screws to smithereens, heavy metal style. 10 minutes later, the rack is fixed: A line of odd, non-matching hooks. Imperfect, but endearing. Like most things here.
At 1, lunch is served around the Chalets. We divide into smaller groups, for “formal lunch”, which means a time for “honest questions and honest answers”. Today, we’re at “La Bourdonette”, where a worker family has residence. The facilitator is a Philosophy scholar – he is Canadian, but rarely says “oot and aboot”. He adjusts his glasses, and ask over the sandwich table, if anyone have anything they’d like to talk aboot. A student has been pondering a topic and soon, responses start to take shape. The dialogue is very calm and careful.
The worker adds a few questions, that soon clarifies the topic. The flow of thoughts and exchanges are picking up speed. I observe and listen from the corner. My brain pounds on, and I want to add a few things. But I know that I have to be patient and allow my thoughts to form, before I can have a go at it. Soon, another student presents my idea – in a much better way than I could have. I can’t help but to be excited. I wasn’t the only one. And now I have a better formulation at hand.
After lunch, Amelia and I walk up the hill, less breathless than in the beginning of the term. We chatter and tease each other. It’s a thrill to be here as us. We still have a small hour to kill, before the next half of the day begins. She looks at me with a wry smile: “Ping-Pong?”