by Charlie Wyatt, Flying Cloud Director

I trudge behind my father, who is visible only by the moonlight gleaming off the snow. Cold air burns my throat and lungs and my aching legs scream for rest, but it’s late, and we’re almost at Flying Cloud anyway. We arrive, a familiar place rendered strange by snow, ice, and darkness. We make camp without much talking and squeeze into our tiny tent, exhausted and happy. I am home again.

A couple years prior, some folks we didn’t know very well had us to their home to learn about a place called Farm and Wilderness. I don’t remember much from that evening, but it must have been fun because I agreed to check out “Ice Cutting Weekend” with my dad a couple months later. I remember it well – showing up as a shy kid after a long drive and feeling so welcomed by a crew who called themselves “Flying Clouders.” We ran around playing hide and seek in the lodge, drank cup after cup of cocoa, made the big hike up to FC in the morning, and cut ice with a huge saw. All of these people hanging out and working together deep in the woods, falling over each other as they hauled big blocks of ice in sleds, and laughing. A weekend of dancing, sledding, new friends, good fun. On the drive home, I was full of the warm glow of new community, experiences, and the promise of adventures to come.

Many more adventures did come, like that night a couple years later when my dad and I decided to camp out at FC before ice cutting the next day. Or the time we summited the highest peak I’d ever been on in the White Mountains. Tanning a hide, nursing a baby bird back to health, sleeping in a structure I made of sticks and leaves, dripping sweat as I learned to use a bowdrill, crawling on my belly to move undetected through the woods, dancing deep into the night around the biggest fire I’d ever seen, let alone made. All that and more, all the while deepening the strongest bonds of friendship and community I’d ever known – all because some folks who we hardly knew invited us into their home, into the Farm and Wilderness community.

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