In a gypsy wagon

Has it really been more than a month since I last circled back here?  In some years that might happen from my tendency to pseudo-hibernate.  But this year it has been quite the opposite of winter tuck-in.

February found us travelling through several states to gather in a gypsy wagon…

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I always imagined such an encounter involving a crystal ball and a long dark-haired and arm-bangled woman peaking into my future.  Not the case here, although there was some peaking into the future.

This gypsy wagon is the handmade home of Mike, our wooden yurt building guide, and his baby bellyful wife Nika.  Its size and portability is something akin to a snail’s shell.  At less than half the square footage of our fabric yurt, it somehow avoids feeling like squeezing yourself into a sardine can.  The opposite – warm and comfortable, cozy, a space that embraces you.  A little too comfortable for the two monkeys with us, who almost immediately set about climbing up to the loft, fishing from the edge and playing in that tucked away space.

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Clearly there was something familiar about this small space for them!  And something familiar for all of us.  This is what happens to the beds in our yurt now with visitors, and just what the children loved best when visiting Bill Coperthwaite – heading up into his overhead bedroom space for play.

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The gypsy wagon visit was familiar in other ways too.  It was a visit to catch up with friends met through Bill, friends who met Bill well before us, at a time when life was wide open to the possibility of traveling the country, the world, to help Bill during wooden tapered yurt building workshops.

We both came to Bill in different ways, at different times, and our visit together resonates of him, looking over yurt plans, Mike suggesting a book he thinks I might like (as Bill often did), this one on permaculture, and talking about Mike and Josh’s sock knitting.

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And we are now connected to the knowledge Mike accumulated on those travels with Bill that will carry on through him for our own wooden tapered yurt building workshops.  Workshops that we set dates for during this visit, the first one now a mere 5 months away…

Less than 5 months away until the wood Josh has milled starts its transformation into a permanent round home.  It is hard to imagine August can be so close when surrounded by this…

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And the future wooden tapered yurt site looks like this…

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But we’ve been doing what we can despite what the snow and freeze keeps hidden away.

Like discussing site preparation with a man who is almost as excited about the possibilities of this spot as we are.

And sitting down with a friend to figure out the base cement layer.

And reading through books from other friends on greywater systems.

And figuring out a metal roof for a three-tiered round structure… including one eye-widening estimate of $40,000, more than is anticipated for the entire rest of the structure… The cost of cedar shingles that Bill originally used for roofing are also through the roof.  Thankfully a bit of perseverance paid off on getting metal roof estimates, even if every case was met with a bit of bafflement on what exactly this roof was going on to.

It’s also been an adventure trying to figure out glass.  Originally we planned to find glass at the kind of reclamation yard Bill did, where you can get “seconds” for a pittance.  But after much searching, this kind of place either doesn’t exist anymore or is very hidden away.  Leading to more humorous conversations with glass companies to get costs for 97 trapezoidal windows…

We’ve also been debating heating systems, considering everything from a rocket mass heater that we could build ourselves, to an external wood boiler, to a cook stove, to building a masonry heater with help… to some combination of them all.  And how a chimney will or won’t work on a cake-like structure, where the chimney “candle” comes out on the bottom cake layer instead of the top layer…  Oy…

At the same time we’ve continued building on areas more familiar to us…

Like making a birthday bag-to-hold-her-knitting for a dear middle sister.

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Because if I can figure out how to get a magnetic button on a bag, then surely I can figure out a chimney configuration. Right?

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Josh has been working on the sweetest little baby socks for the latest boom…  Not ours!  We have enough growing going on around here.

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And even looking to a time beyond our yurt building workshops – late fall, hunting season, when everyone must turn blaze orange around these parts.

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The children have been doing some manifesting of their own…

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Including their self-devised method for making secret valentines in a one room structure…  A method that might work nicely for both yurt dwellers and gypsy wagon occupants….

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It is mid-March, but it snowed this week and has still been cold enough to need to put the insulation panels on the yurt windows at night.  The heat of August seems like a far-fetched oasis illusion.  But it will be come.  And fingers-crossed, we will be building our home, side-by-side with many others who knew Bill and/or wanted to know him.

Of course I wish he could be here as originally planned.  But then I remember that day he came here, folded himself down into the earth to show us how to really take a lay of the land to determine where our house should go….

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Separately, Josh and I both realized that this spot Bill chose to fold into that day is the very spot we are about to build the yurt he designed on.  He will not be here to lead the workshops, but he IS here, through us, through Mike, through everyone who gathers to continue on the work he envisioned and inspired.  He’ll be here.

And then won’t this snow and cold seem a distant memory as we hammer in the August heat, swatting away mosquitoes….

6 thoughts on “In a gypsy wagon

  1. I am up early and reading your lovely writing. Lovely memories of Bill and future excitement for your family as the spring emerges and the wood cures. So glad that you all live near by and come for pizza!
    …and spring is on it’s way.

  2. Thanks for the post! We live in a vinyl yurt in Northern Alberta, and also love off grid with our young family. It’s so nice to see others living the life:) my husband and I have been so inspired by Bill and his life, you are SO blessed to have known him!! We have made our vinyl yurt permanent by spray foaming and adding a loft….such a journey hey! Take care,

    • We bought our little fabric yurt just as a way to live on site while we worked on our wooden yurt plan, never imagining we’d end up loving it so much. It really is a magical space and you are very lucky to be permanently settled into one. I know I will miss being tucked into ours, and wouldn’t leave it if not for finishing out the original round magic vision.

  3. So many twists and turns in your adventure. From the fire that released all of your things to Bill passing to the other side – you remind me that life shows up and we can either dance with it or wish it to be otherwise. Keep dancing…

    • Lovely, lovely words Cara. Yes. It has most definitely not been the path we thought we were following at the start of this. But somehow we seem to be getting about where we hoped. Must go dance. 🙂

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