Ever since Selena Fox, founder of Circle Sanctuary with husband Dennis, invited us to perform at Circle Sanctuary I have been excited. Claire was starting to get weary of this tour, but I somehow knew this day would be a huge re-charge for her.
Little did I know this was going to be one of the best days of our lives !!! …
finding Circle Sanctuary
Getting to Circle Sanctuary first needed a complete crossing of Iowa state, continuing along the Lewis and Clarke tail road of Route 20 between the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Once upon a time this would have been total prairie country but now totally farmed for corn, soya, and maybe some wheat. The day was sunny and warm but this is a tiring landscape to drive in. The horizon is a constant vision of the road you are driving, many miles ahead. This is almost total big sky and yellow stalk country with very few towns and the towns are very, very small, but also neat and well kept.
Waterloo, one of the major towns of Iowa, giving us a little relied with its rolling hills landscape and we had delightful falafel and salads lunch from a very nice Pita sandwiches take out.
Past Waterloo we were back in the standard Iowa farming country and was fairly relieved to reach and cross the Mississippi into hilly and very interesting landscapes of Wisconsin. We left Route 20 which I believe makes its way south east to Chicago. We travelled north east towards Barneveld and through the country lanes to Circle Sanctuary.
first feelings at Circle Sanctuary
First, it was wonderful to arrive with some sun present and some warmth, though it was clouding over fast. It was just after 4:00 pm and we were told Selena would arrive in about 10 minutes. I was eager to explore a bit. Claire was eager for a bit of rest and silence.
In the distance I saw an old blue Volkswagon camper and thought there must be a story to that, so I went toward it to venture. From there I looked down to a large labyrinth. Up the hill path I saw blue birds soaring and climbed to try to get photos. The path intrigued me I kept going up through the woods and found the reserve’s beautiful stone circle full of collections for ceremony and beautiful crystals. Beside this was the very moving cat’s shrine.
A couple of minutes walk turned into a 30 minutes exploring adventure. I realised the others may well be waiting for me, and how rude I was being. No need to worry. As I ran back down the hill my return to the Circle Sanctuary barn timed perfectly with the arrival of Selena.
From the moment you meet Selena, she is a ball of constantly ignited earth woman fire. The warmest of greetings, as if you are the only people in her life, then straight into her beautiful world. First thing that strikes you, or at least me, is that she looks different the photos on Facebook, her web site etc. To meet her live she seems younger, more vibrant, glowing, smiling. I thought i would address this by taking more photos to somehow capture the “real” Selena, but even I did not feel I succeeded to do this in photo either.
Selena immediately guided Claire and I into some of the sacred components of her vast land, the high totem real may pole, the willows, the arches and her beautiful sacred spring well surrounded by prayer, wishing and blessing trees full of cluties where we also met Reed, her land loving, land caring groundsman. After a quite 30 minute tour we were wisked up to her home where another of her staff had prepared us delicious veggie lasagna and salad. It is here we met Selena’s wonderful calm warm husband Dennis, a lecturer in a local university and a very obvious private support and encouragement for Selena. A wonderful, wonderful couple.
We loved Selena’s cat, forget the name, who is equally friendly and welcoming as Selena and Dennis.
For while, before sitting to eat, we stared out of Selena’s huge living room window looking into the woods and the many bird boxes and feeders, watching the many species of birds soaring around. At one point we were delighted to view six red headed woodpeckers at the same time, chasing each other to established their little territories.
Looking back into Selena’s home, its a delightful collection of sculptures, ceramics and other crafts that celebrate the appreciation of nature and the spirit of nature. Here collection is everywhere on every wall in every room and on every item of furniture.
After a wonderful warming meal and conversation it was time to head back to the Circle Sanctuary barn to prepare for our performance for the evening……
performing in the Circle Sanctuary Barn
This is a lovely traditional country style venue. The barn is restored from about 150 years ago, I believe. It is truly perfect for what Claire and I perform. A wonderful audience turned up, I think around 50 people. Selena said it was the first time they have hosted a Thursday event like this.
Since our arrival the sky was cloudy and air cool, but just before the concert start the sky cleared to serve sun and warmth.
The audience was highly responsive and Claire dared to perform more of her own contemporary songs more than Irish songs, and this was very well received. Great sing alongs to Cockles and Mussels and Danny Boy too. Surprisingly, Claire did not sing any of her arrangements of W.B. Yeats poems to song, and some people did ask me some questions about Yeats after the show, not knowing what beautiful songs Claire has created from these poems. Maybe next time :-)
after the show
Claire and I had planned to drive onto to Lodi, to a campsite called Smokey Hollow, after the show, to stay for 2 nights. Selena easily tempted us to stay the night camped in Circle Sanctuary. It was very peaceful there. We did not want to leave, especially after a wonderful evening too.