Jory, a school social worker from Vermont, a hiker and gardener, mother of a college-aged daughter.
Ilona, a recent Smith graduate, former ultimate Frisbee player, student of an international boarding school, and classical guitarist, working now in an office job in the green economy in Washington DC.
Donna, a nurse from Central Massachusetts, a motorcyclist, who dreams of building a home closer to her two grown sons.
Alexis, a middle school art teacher and ceramicist who recently purchased five wooded acres of land in New Hampshire, where she plans to build her own timber-framed strawbale house.
Theresa, a former financial executive from New Jersey, a single mother whose children have grown. The day after her youngest child got a job, she quit her corporate job working for real estate developers, to move to Philadelphia where she will study urban planning.
Sarabel, a free-spirited employee of the Farm School in Western Massachusetts, a nonprofit that provides overnight, back-to-the-land experiences for children.
Cindy, a retired diplomat of the United Nations, now splitting her time between Vermont and South Africa.
Sasha, quiet, a 30-ish newlywed who works with youth, who is moving to a new city the day that class ends, and starting a new job two days later.
Then there is me: mother of two, wife of eleven years, semi-professional writer, striving to do more for myself.
I count the number of students who appear over 35, and under 30. The class seems split evenly — something that brings me no small relief.
We have two instructors, both professional women carpenters. Patti drives a silver Ford pick-up truck, is partial to Long Trail beer, and carries a guitar in a case emblazoned with bumper stickers, one of which says “Practice conscious acts of solidarity and organized resistance.” In her spare time, she rides motorcycles, plays folk festivals, has a radio show celebrating women’s music. She wears a scruffy T-shirt and a worn Yestermorrow baseball cap over her short hair. She stretches her muscled legs in front of her as she describes the 11-year process of building her own home. At one point during the week, she will tell us she does, in fact, own both an iron and a blowdryer — both are in her wood shop, used exclusively for carpentry.
Lizabeth — there is no “E,” though I will spend the week stumbling over that — is direct and wry, a former Peace Corps volunteer, simultaneously petite and rugged. Her long hair swept up casually, and she wears a T-shirt that says, “Don’t Panic: Go Organic.” Lizabeth explains why she became a carpenter in a single, short sentence: “because my dad was a sexist.”