These Rainbow words of goodbye replaced the greeting “welcome home” Monday as the Rainbow Family Gathering decamped after a weeklong get-together in the woods south of Iron River.
Cars no longer lined miles of Canthook Lake Road in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, and silence had once again descended where Rainbows — as the people who attend these gatherings are known — had chattered and welcomed each other “home.”
But now that the Fourth of July celebration of peace, harmony and healing has concluded and Rainbows have struck their camps, they’ve begun carting out gear and trash in preparation to restore the land to its pre-gathering glory.
U.S. Forest Service officers and members of the Washburn Ranger Station met Monday with Rainbows to go over plans for the site’s rehabilitation.
Jennifer Maziasz of the Washburn Ranger Station said the Rainbows would be responsible for handling the work, such as filling in the trench latrines, and decompacting large-group sites to a certain soil depth and covering them with forest litter like leaves. The Rainbows also will lay down seeds if necessary.
But first the trash needs to be carted out and sorted.
“It’s a slow-moving movie,” Rainbow Karen Zirk said.
Although Rainbows are leaving some filled bags of garbage along the side of the road, they are working with the Forest Service to take over the administrators’ parking area for temporary trash storage, Zirk said.
The garbage will then be sorted so that recyclables will not end up with the trash at the dump.
Although thousands of Rainbows left the area after the gathering ended Sunday, hundreds remained to help clean up. And they continued their Rainbow pursuits making music, cooking in the kitchens and laying on the love.