Guest blog by Science Educator Josh Adrian
Not everyone gets to experience food that is shared intentionally during communal meals. For me, it was essential to my parents that my family sits down to at least one meal together each day. My mom is a fantastic cook, and the food she put in front of us was just as much an inspiration to join in on meals as the unspoken expectation to be present. Whether my dad was out because of work, or I had soccer practice, we found a way to eat together. I was lucky to have that intentionality growing up, and now I see how that carried with me. Now when I am back home, my family and I plan vacations and other activities around food. Staying up North? Meals are planned first, then adventures. Visiting a new city? We figure out best places to eat ahead of schedule, and just wander between meals to find things to do.
I continued that sense of intentionality into college. In the dorms, my friends and I would have “family dinner” when we could go down the hall and get everyone to come with us to the elevator to go eat as a group. Once I had my own apartment, it felt strange if I couldn’t have a handful of friends over at least once a month for a big meal.
Now, I’m on Hurricane Island, living in an oil lamp-lit cabin with outhouses. It’s pretty simple here, but one thing that is not paired down is the meals. Understanding how much I cared about food growing up, you can pretty much surmise my elation at the spread we get here three times a day. I probably will post again just about the jaw-dropping menu we have, but that’s not what this post is about. More to the point, we eat together.
There are too many young people in this world of lightning-fast living who don’t experience meals where they can sit with people who love them and talk and share their life with. To me, the importance of being able to step away from projects and activities, and breathe, eat, and share experiences, is core to us as people. Here at Hurricane Island, all of the staff and the students sit down together for a beautiful meal three times a day. Sharing together, like this is huge! Youth and adults engaging together, sharing knowledge and experiences from the day. It’s pretty incredible community time.
Last night, the Middle School Marine Ecology students used a seaweed called Irish Moss to make chocolate pudding for everyone. Watching them present the pudding to the staff and the Waynflete Sustainable Ocean Studies high schoolers was magical. The high schoolers absolutely inhaled the pudding (of course), and mid-way through bites the middle school students revealed the secret ingredient! The high schoolers were unfazed, and to the middle school group’s delight continued to demolish bowls of pudding.
These are the best meals to me. Sitting down in the midst of the students to find out what discoveries they made that day. Laughing and learning from each other, connected by the island and our enthusiasm to learn everything we can while at this place. Food has always been essential for my community, and I couldn’t be happier that I’ve found that communal value here, at Hurricane Island.