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  • Sean Smith

One Month On

Updated: Jul 4


Yes, obviously, tomorrow is the birthday of our nation (well, my nation, anyway; don't know if it's yours, too), and also marks the anniversary of the day in 362 BC when the Thebans whupped the Spartans – although the latter has, over time, won the contest for being the namesake of choice for collegiate or professional sports teams.

Here at Above the Fold, though, it's a smaller scale and personal milestone: July 4 will mark one month since the official launch of my novel Transformation Summer, as well as this blog and the website it's on. I'm very pleased with the interest and response so far, and hope that you, your family, your friends, your co-workers and anyone else with even the slightest, most dubious connection to you will make a habit of visiting here. Don't know if it'll be as much fun as a fireworks display, but at least I won't frighten your dog or set off your car alarm.


* * *

On a completely different other subject, I just came back from an extended weekend at Pinewoods, a camp in Plymouth, Mass., that offers participatory programs in traditional folk music and dance, which happens to be a longstanding interest of mine. Pinewoods has been going for several decades, inviting preeminent musicians, singers and dancers to share their knowledge and insights in an up-close-and-personal way. It's primarily the English, Scottish and American folk traditions that are spotlighted, but you'll encounter plenty of others while you're there, because the people who come to Pinewoods invariably find, or create opportunities to do some sharing of their own beyond the scheduled classes and workshops: Maybe it's a pair of accordionists working on an Irish reel, a trio of fiddlers playing Swedish gammeldans, some friends trying out an Israeli folk dance, a small group of singers belting out an African spiritual.


One of the major elements of Transformation Summer is the concept of intentional communities – in this case, going beyond the likes of communes, cooperative housing, shared households and the like to include any gathering that occurs on a regular basis and, essentially, has its own ecosystem. When you go to a place like Pinewoods, especially over time, you feel that what you do on your own, or with friends, is at least as important as the formal, structured aspects of the program; you develop shared expectations, behaviors, perhaps certain rituals (an early morning swim in the ponds bordering the camp, for example).

There are many people who have attended Pinewoods far longer and more frequently than I have, but it doesn't matter: We all know this is a very special place we have, and it's incredibly comforting and enriching to have it as part of our lives.

Of course, an almost inevitable outcome of attending Pinewoods is a lack of sleep, so if you'll excuse me...

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