What I remember most about Pleasant Hill was not the two stark building, one for women, one for men; nor the building where trays of mulberry leaves were spread as far as the eye could see and women wearing delicate face-framing bonnets picked at cocoons that had been boiled and slowly unwound their slender threads into large spools; nor the meeting house where they demonstrated the dance and the song and thinking about how this society had dwindled to a mere seven in Sabbathday Lake, Maine; nor the administration and guest house where the prefect spiral staircase rose in the atrium, seeming floating without support; nor the green pumpkins the size of small carriages still clinging the the vine thought now rimed at times with frost; nor the chill of the wind or the color of the trees as we rode the riverboat up the Kentucky river to see the wonders of autumnal nature spread before us; nor the bee-hazed cider press that buzzed louder than any modern machinery as a man in round black hat turned the wheel to crush the leavings of the apples; nor the straight ladder-back chairs that so many others oohed and ahed over.
No, what I remember best was a small obscure awninged shade where a single woman sat with what looked like a completely wooden paper cutter and golden straw. And when her visitors would approach she would rise and take some of the straw and lay it across the ridges and valleys of this not-paper-cutter and swiftly chop down on it as if to slice it in two. And the outer peel of the golden straw would break and with some deft movements of her fingers, she would peel it away to reveal the golden threads that lay within. She'd take carding tools, like those for working wool and pull the threads between them over and over and over again. And when she had a puffy ball of the stuff, she'd grab a wooden top she had sitting to one side and pull the fluffy cloud into fine white threads, pausing every now and then to wrap the threads around the spindle.
And when she was done, she would take them to the woman at the loom, who would wind the threads onto her bobbin and race them through the warp and weft of the fabric she was making.
And all around was the clamor of no-noise at all--no radio, no television, no tractors, nothing--the thundering roar of sitting before God in a simple task, and perhaps humming under one's breath:
'Tis the gift to be simple,
'tis the gift to be free,
'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
'Til by turning, turning we come round right