Goodbye for now, Holden Village

What a ride! 

We are finally home after spending a month at Holden Village in the Cascade Mountains. The past two days have been full of traveling of all sorts, from buses and planes to trains and ferrys. Some dedicated runners in our group even made part of the journey on foot, running the 11 mile bus route down from Holden, taking in the scenery on their own two feet. 

Traveling proceeded smoothly this time around - there was no need to put chains on the bus and no luggage was misplaced at the airport. We are glad to be home, but saddened to have left such a wonderful place.  Exhilarating but exhausting, this month has helped to rekindle our passion. It was truly an adventure!

Reflections on our experience

We apologize for not blogging much in this last week - Holden internet is notoriously slow (the information is sent by satellite to Wenatchee, 30 miles away, before being plugged into the web) and difficult to work with. But besides that, we really sought to soak in the experience and be present for our last week there. Being absent from technology, without texts or social media to distract us, we were able to be present with one another, connecting on a deeper level. No one rushed out after meals to go call someone or send off a quick email - people linger and really engage in meaningful conversations. We did not want to spend our last week hiding up in the technology office trying to create a blog post - we wanted to spend every minute we could with the people in the village, making the most of an incredible experience. So we apologize, but know that you were in our hearts. 

Holden Highlights

Our final days were jam packed with activities. These included a variety show, where many Luther students and villagers showcased their diverse talents, and a contra dance, which was a first for many. We are now inspired to attend more of the Highlandville dances in Decorah. Many of us also tested out the pottery studio and glazed our pieces for the first time. Luther's own Sam "Frenzy" Zook helped with the firing, and we emerged with some beautiful, handmade creations.

We also lucked out with the weather during our final weekend. It is often cloudy in the Railroad Creek Valley, with the peaks veiled in snow or fog, but the last couple of days the sun made an appearance.  The snowy peaks shone a radiant white in the sunlight, and at night, the stars shone brightly, the closest lights dozens of miles away. Many of us took advantage of the opportunity to go out for a final snowshoe, connecting with the mountains one last time. A group also spent a night winter camping in a yurt, embracing the rustic opportunities Holden provides. 

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye to the people of Holden and the other students was difficult. The community center ethos of the village allowed us to build meaningful relationships with everyone there, from full time staff to St. Olaf and seminary students. Everyone came out during coffee break on Monday to send us off; some St. Olaf students even made signs. Many hugs were given, tears were shed, and contact information was shared. It was certainly a bittersweet farewell - we will miss our new friends as we all go our separate ways. Many reunions have been planned already, however, and many of us plan to return to Holden someday. 

We are looking forward to the semester ahead, but we will carry Holden Village with us forever in our hearts. 

The view of Holden Village from Chalet hill, a prime sledding location
Students watching a demonstration of the "hey for four", a contra dance move.
Nora Felt and Erika Storvick up on the third loop, a scenic overlook of the Railroad Creek Valley and Holden Village