The Holden Village Podcast

Holden Main-Street: Rachel Cornwell

May 06, 2023 Dev Bach
The Holden Village Podcast
Holden Main-Street: Rachel Cornwell
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to Holden Main Street: a playful podcast series dedicated to capturing the daily life and creative musings of ordinary folk at Holden Village. Who are the people drawn to this wild and uniquely transformative mountain community? How do their descriptions of hilarity, wilderness living, shared work and interior exploration shape the landscape of their time here? Expect to be delighted by improvised stories, poetry readings, the sounds of tea being poured, songs being sung, and bits of whimsy inspired by the moment. Enjoy.

Rachel Cornwell grew up in Bellingham, WA and came to the Holden seeking the peace of nature and community. She often came to the Village as a child with her family and now has become a leader as a fire system technician. Her depth and sense of wonder is unparalleled, which is also complimented by a practicality that allows her to be incredibly reliable. 

To learn more about Holden Village, visit: or to listen to more audio recordings visit: The Holden Village Podcast is accessible through Apple iTunes, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeart Radio, and most podcast apps. For questions and inquiries, contact

Music created by Dev.

Holden Main-Street: Rachel Cornwell

[00:00:00] Intro: Welcome to Holden Main Street: a playful podcast series dedicated to capturing the daily life and creative musings of ordinary folk at Holden Village. Who are the people drawn to this wild and uniquely transformative mountain community? How do their descriptions of hilarity, wilderness living, shared work and interior exploration shape the landscape of their time here? Expect to be delighted by improvised stories, poetry readings, the sounds of tea being poured, songs being sung, and bits of whimsy inspired by the moment. Enjoy.

[00:00:41] Dev: Hence fourth we have another amazing episode. I am Dev, he/him pronouns. I am with the wonderful Rachel... 

[00:00:50] Rachel Cornwell: ...Cornwell. 

[00:00:50] Dev: Cornwell. I keep wanna say Cromwell, which is like an old school English-style aristocrat kind of thing...which is not what you are.

[00:00:58] Rachel Cornwell: And the where I grew up, the main street was Cornwall Street, so nobody ever got it right. 

[00:01:06] Dev: Oh man. So that's super confusing. How would you like to introduce yourself? 

[00:01:13] Rachel Cornwell: Rachel Cornwell, fire-systems technician. 

[00:01:17] Dev: Amazing. And you've been coming here for a while. 

[00:01:21] Rachel Cornwell: When I was a kid, but it would always be for, you know, a week or so at a time. And most of my memories here exist with my family and working in that unit. So being here as a staff member is a completely different community to be a part of. Part of being up here and part of the silliness of it all reminds you that there's all this space to be a kid again, particularly as someone that came up here so much as a kid. There's also that full circle feeling of returning to those memories. Things just get so goofy when you're like living and working and doing the whole thing with people, like they will see all your weird sides.  So you gotta just embrace it. 

[00:02:09] Dev: Why don't you give me a word and a feeling or an object and a feeling. 

[00:02:14] Rachel Cornwell: A bowl of spaghetti. 

[00:02:15] Dev: A bowl of spaghetti. Amazing! 

[00:02:19] Rachel Cornwell: Let's go with confusion. 

[00:02:21] Dev: Confusion. Perfect. Perfect. Okay, so I'm gonna start this tale where we know each other, anything can happen and there are no wrong answers. 

[00:02:31] Rachel Cornwell: Beautiful. 

[00:02:31] Dev: Cool. Margot because that is your name in this wonderful tale. I'm so glad that we started that Italian restaurant, where when you eat the spaghetti that we serve, it just creates mass confusion for people. Let's take this one step further. They actually turn into a little kid, so they go backwards in time. They eat the spaghetti, they go backwards in time and turn into their five year old selves. And then there's just mass chaos. What happens next? 

[00:03:00] Rachel Cornwell: Ah, yes. That special sauce that we put on our spaghetti (uncontrollable laughter). A secret well hidden through the generations. 

[00:03:08] Dev: It starts with 24 different herbs and also there's this very specific spell that you use, and the spell is essentially an R&B track. R&B has been part of your family for a long time. 

[00:03:23] Rachel Cornwell: Oh yes. We have a very intense fascination with R&B. It's a very special ceremony in which we welcome our friends and family into this knowledge base. And it's kind of like a secret society in some ways. 

[00:03:42] Dev: It totally is. 

[00:03:42] Rachel Cornwell: Because, you know we can't have everybody just spaghetti brained (uncontrollable laughter).

[00:03:55] Dev: Yeah. It's very intentional who we feed the secret sauce to. 

[00:03:59] Rachel Cornwell: Well, yeah. You have to sign a couple of papers when you enter into the restaurant. It's kind of just a liability thing. Getting insurance for this restaurant is a crazy process. 

[00:04:09] Dev: That's where I come into this situation. I'm a lawyer and so I help the family business from being sued from all these crazy situations that happen. And so we're actually helping people discover their own silliness. Because you know, if people get too serious in their lives, then they get the sauce (uncontrollable laughter). And so we have criteria for that. 

[00:04:34] Rachel Cornwell: It's inner child work. 

[00:04:35] Dev: Inner child work. 

[00:04:36] Rachel Cornwell: Exactly. 

[00:04:37] Dev: It's inner child sauce (uncontrollable laughter).

[00:04:44] Rachel Cornwell: Oh. We serve some Kool-Aid with it too, you know? (uncontrollable laughter).

[00:04:47] Dev: Right, totally. Exactly. Yeah. Just to make people feel safe (uncontrollable laughter). 

[00:04:53] Rachel Cornwell: Exactly. Still part of a community, you know? (uncontrollable laughter)

[00:04:56] Dev: Right. Totally. You know, inclusivity is very important (uncontrollable laughter).

[00:04:59] Rachel Cornwell: Exactly(uncontrollable laughter).

[00:05:02] Dev: Oh, excellent. Cool. I think that's all that needs to be said about that. Wonderful. Inner Child Sauce, brought to you by Rachel and Dev. Excellent. 

[00:05:12] Rachel Cornwell: I think I need some of that.

[00:05:14] Dev: Right, exactly. That's the thing, these witchy brews; we gotta bring that stuff back. 

[00:05:20] Rachel Cornwell: I agree. What kind of tea is it? 

[00:05:22] Dev: This is called Sheng Pu-erh and it is the queen of all tees; the king and queen of all tees, actually. It makes you feel great about yourself.

[00:05:35] Rachel Cornwell: Well, I'm all for that. 

[00:05:36] Dev: I know, right? What's better than that? 

[00:05:38] Rachel Cornwell: I think I've heard of this tea once before. I went to school in Boulder and they have a big tea house there. And so they're like tea Sisters with this place, I think in Nepal. They have a huge variety of tea, but I never actually tried the Pu-erh, is that how you say it?

[00:05:59] Dev: Yes. So it's "p-u" dash "e-r-h," but yeah, that actually makes me want to go to Nepal now. And speaking of which, where do you want to go into the world?

[00:06:07] Rachel Cornwell: So many places. 

[00:06:09] Dev: So many places.

[00:06:12] Rachel Cornwell: El Camino in Spain is one that's on my list. I think that would be really incredible. 

[00:06:18] Dev: So I did 10 days of the Camino. 

[00:06:21] Rachel Cornwell: Oh, really? 

[00:06:22] Dev: From the most northern tip of France and Spain...and then it just goes down into Basque country.

[00:06:30] Rachel Cornwell: Oh, it's beautiful over there. 

[00:06:32] Dev: It was mind blowing. It was in between two things that I had to do in that area, so it was like, might as well pilgrimage. Cause yeah, that's the coolest thing ever. And so I had a very genuine experience with that. Highly recommend.

[00:06:46] Rachel Cornwell: Did you do it alone? 

[00:06:47] Dev: No, I did it with a friend. We both really wanted to see Radiohead in Barcelona. And so we both went there, but before then we did that leg of the journey of the Camino. Have you seen the movie The Way by any chance? 

[00:07:04] Rachel Cornwell: I haven't actually seen it, and I would really love to. 

[00:07:07] Dev: It's actually really heartwarming and I highly recommend it. I think it would also inspire you to purchase that plane ticket and get on over there. 

Let's talk about fire systems. What connects you to fire; the element of fire? What makes you just bombastic about fire? 

[00:07:26] Rachel Cornwell: Well, you know, something that Jeff Pierce said (uncontrollable laughter) is that all firefighters might be secret pyromaniacs. 

[00:07:36] Dev: I think there's some beautiful truth there. 

[00:07:38] Rachel Cornwell: They've channeled the energy properly.  So maybe that's a little piece of me. 

[00:07:48] Dev: Totally. Well, do you have a first memory of fire or like a fascination with fire? 

[00:07:56] Rachel Cornwell: That's a good question. I mostly just remember campfires as a kid...a lot of camping with the family. But also, so when I was in third grade, we moved into a new house and my dad's an architect, so this was like his lifelong dream to be able to design his own house.

So one of the things that him and my mom really wanted as an element to the house is  a real beautiful stone fireplace that you put actual logs in, which now that I think about it, is probably in part due to all their times up at Holden too. 

[00:08:35] Dev: Totally. 

[00:08:35] Rachel Cornwell: And having this like cabin like feeling up here as well. So I remember that was also a big part of moving in and we would always sit around the fireplace.  That was always the place to be. So we're a fire family, maybe.

[00:08:53] Dev: A fire family. Wow! Yeah, that's just such a cool title.

[00:08:58] Rachel Cornwell: Yeah. If you chase back the lineage of Cornwell, you'll find it actually translates to... 

[00:09:07] Dev: Wait, wait, wait. What does it translate to?

[00:09:09] Rachel Cornwell: Oh, I have no idea (uncontrollable laughter). We were in England one time. 

[00:09:14] Dev: That's wonderful. 

[00:09:16] Rachel Cornwell: We were like going around this roundabout and my mom was driving and my dad was giving directions at this point, and we would just get so lost all the time. and so on these big roundabouts we see this exit for Cornwell.

[00:09:32] Dev: Destiny. 

[00:09:33] Rachel Cornwell: Destiny, we must go. 

[00:09:36] Dev: What did you find in this mystical land of Cornwell? 

[00:09:39] Rachel Cornwell: Oh, the mystical land of Cornwell. You, you drive down a little road and then another little smaller road, and then it becomes dirt road, and then it's like a church in three homes. It's like this tiny, tiny little place. 

[00:09:51] Dev: What's more mystical than that? 

[00:09:52] Rachel Cornwell: Exactly. 

[00:09:55] Dev: I bet in the basement of one of the homes is this magical fairy land, you know? 

[00:10:00] Rachel Cornwell: Oh I'm sure. Yeah. So that's the only origin of Cornwell that I know. 

[00:10:05] Dev: That's amazing. I love it. I love getting lost stories.

[00:10:10] Rachel Cornwell: Getting lost is a good thing. 

[00:10:12] Dev: Getting lost is amazing. 

[00:10:13] Rachel Cornwell: Go out into the woods 

[00:10:14] Dev: Are you a big hiker around here? 

[00:10:16] Rachel Cornwell: I am. Yeah. I'm very excited for more of the trails to clear and to explore more. So far some of the snowshoeing and things that I've done have just been wonderful. I did a snowshoe out to Big Creek and Paul, if you've talked much with him.

[00:10:35] Dev: Paul and I are super buddies at this point. Yeah, he's one of my favorites. Let's just do a shout out to Paul. 

[00:10:42] Rachel Cornwell: Yes. Here's a big shout out to Pauly T (uncontrollable laughter).

[00:10:44] Dev: There we go. Actually, maybe that'll be a tradition in these podcast series. We'll do a small shout out to Paul, like randomly. 

[00:10:54] Rachel Cornwell: I like that! So yeah, Julia and I ran into him in the dining hall right before we left, and it's one of his favorite snowshoes. And he was like "oh, it's so magical." And I asked him what about it he thought was magical? And he said "go figure it out." 

[00:11:14] Dev: Just go. 

[00:11:17] Rachel Cornwell: But it was the perfect advice because then you weren't looking for specific things. You were just in awe of the thing. 

[00:11:24] Dev: Absolutely. 

[00:11:25] Rachel Cornwell: And it was wonderful. 

[00:11:30] Dev: You know, they always make you figure it out for yourself, you know? In all these journeys, these epiphanies... 

[00:11:37] Rachel Cornwell: They never give you straight answers (uncontrollable laughter). 

[00:11:38] Dev: I know, right? I just want a couple straight-forward answers. 

[00:11:43] Rachel Cornwell: At least gimme a hint maybe, right? 

[00:11:45] Dev: Totally, totally. Or like a sound or whatever. Yeah. 

[00:11:51] Rachel Cornwell: I see you have the essential Neruda. I have the same book sitting in my room. 

[00:11:57] Dev: Well, well, well. There we go. Should we just read a poem? 

[00:12:02] Rachel Cornwell: I think so.

[00:12:03] Dev: I think so too. Actually, it's typically how I love to start these types of sessions is usually with the reading. So why don't you pick a random page, all right. And see what comes about.

[00:12:20] Rachel Cornwell: Okay. This is Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks. 

All those men were there inside, 
when she came in totally naked. 
They had been drinking: they began to spit. 
Newly come from the river, she knew nothing. 
She was a mermaid who had lost her way. 
The insults flowed down her gleaming flesh. 
Obscenities drowned her golden breasts. 
Not knowing tears, she did not weep tears. 
Not knowing clothes, she did not have clothes. 
They blackened her with burnt corks and cigarette stubs, 
and rolled around laughing on the tavern floor. 
She did not speak because she had no speech. 
Her eyes were the colour of distant love, 
her twin arms were made of white topaz. 
Her lips moved, silent, in a coral light, 
and suddenly she went out by that door. 
Entering the river she was cleaned, 
shining like a white stone in the rain, 
and without looking back she swam again 
swam towards emptiness, swam towards death.

[00:13:34] Dev: Wow. Excellent. Excellent. Wonderfully read by the way. 

[00:13:39] Rachel Cornwell: Oh, what a fable. 

[00:13:41] Dev: The phrase "the far away love" really hit home. And even the last part; I had a dream three days ago that was really vivid where I ended up on a boat. And I knew that I could not get back to land. Like the boat was just going into the ocean, into the vastness, and then that was that. 

[00:14:04] Rachel Cornwell: That last line, the swam to her dying? It kind of reminds me of maybe a month ago when there was one of the Sunday Eucharist services and Pastor Mark was talking about Eden.  And I'm not particularly religious, but I really loved the way he framed the story of Adam and Eve when they take a bite of the apple. And learn about their own mortality. They learn that they will die at some point, not that they will die right then...and this sense of losing innocence or Ego death or some sort of knowledge that is the path that you take at some point.  And that's the journey that we're all on. So it reminded me of that. 

[00:15:00] Dev: And certainly in both cases, in the Christian story and in this poem, there's a bullying of the feminine. 

[00:15:10] Rachel Cornwell: Yeah, and it's funny that she leaves that situation in some sense just completely unaffected by the taunts. It's like she's this wall of eternal beauty and, you know, it reminds me of this writing prompt. I had this class in college, it was called Constructions of Knowledge. 

So we would get random different writing prompts each week. This one was pretend you are an alien and you get plopped into your childhood home at seven in the morning. Describe what's happening. And and so in some ways it's like this evolved being where these things don't matter, but it also, in some ways, it's like a newborn child right? Like unawareness and lack of knowledge about the world that we exist in 

[00:16:11] Dev: And belonging. Where do you feel like you've belonged the most?
I'll go first because something just popped into my head. So this was actually a physical place. During my master's program I got to study within the painted caves of the Dordogne region in south, central France. And being in those caves, i've never felt as much peace as I had in them.

I think it was the resonance. And that's why I think one of the reasons why I love caves so much is that it amplifies the human voice. No matter what you say, whether it's words or sounds (we would actually sing in these caves and we even brought a cellist with us, which is just over the top, but so beautiful). 

[00:17:01] Rachel Cornwell: That's amazing. 

[00:17:02] Dev: It was incredible. We just had these really beautiful sonorous experiences in these caves. Does that conjure anything up for you? 

[00:17:12] Rachel Cornwell: The first thing that came to mind as you were telling about the caves. Last summer I went on a little kayaking trip around the San Juan Islands. So me and one of my friends, we just rented kayaks from Lopez Island and did a little loop around Shaw and we camped on this tiny little island, right off the coast from where the main ferry terminal is. And it was just us. And then there was a group of kids from a camp that were on the island as well, but they were like down by the beach and we had a little campsite up top.

It was just the two of us. And we were having such a fun, magical time because it wasn't the best weather. It was kind of rainy, but it just made for this like misty beautiful kayaking where you really feel like you're in the water. I thought it was perfect for what it was. And yeah, so we stayed on this island and the clouds had started to clear a little bit.

We were cooking our mashed potatoes for dinner. We had like a box of wine up there, and so we were just sitting out on this little rock outcropping. And it felt like a moment like you would experience up here. We were like running around with blankets as capes and singing songs, just being absolutely ridiculous. Yeah, that was just a really special evening of what Joy feels like. This is what friendship feels like. 

[00:18:52] Dev: That sounds lovely. Yeah. As you said that, I was imagining that would be the perfect context for that mermaid to show up. Much better situation with you guys than at the tavern.

[00:19:03] Rachel Cornwell: Yeah. Hopefully we would be a little nicer. 

[00:19:07] Dev: This has been delightful. 

[00:19:08] Rachel Cornwell: This has been delightful.

[00:19:10] Improvised Song:

Oh mermaid
Siren Song
Your call has been lost 
Through the bar cries and brawls

[00:19:35] Outro: Thanks for joining us. Be sure to view the links in the description for more information or visit our website to find out more about the village. We hope you'll make a pilgrimage to Holden soon. Blessings and peace to you.