“I want to live in a yurt,” a co-worker said when she learned today that I do live in a yurt.
“I want to live in a house,” I said in jest, “and to have windows and better insulation.” I laughed, then conceded that, “it is really nice to live in a round space.”
It’s our fifth winter in a 20-foot yurt, and after so many years, the fact that our home is more of a glorified tent doesn’t phase me much. It’s what we’ve built our life in, where our dreams have germinated, where our family grows.
We are both feeling ready to create more space, at least by next winter, and to move into a building with thick walls and windows that beg for house plants to sit on the sill. Sometimes, though, it’s worth looking back and seeing what brought me here.
My first yurt home was situated under hemlocks on an Adirondack lake. To reach the little yurt village where I spent a semester with 13 other students, we hiked a mile in through the woods, then canoed three-quarters of a mile across the lake.
It was the most relaxing commute I’ve ever had (though we didn’t commute very often)–more relaxing even than the 300 foot walk from my front door to the garden here at the farm–and surely the most inspiring commute, too. There is something about the smooth strokes of a canoe paddle that bring the body into presence.
I was 19 and learning that wildness could be part of my life everyday. I was learning that living close to nature didn’t have to be relegated to yearly camping trips. I was learning that the pulse I felt when I sat beneath a red pine could be the rhythm I set my days to.
After that semester ended, it would be five years before I’d live in a yurt again.
Where I live now is my third yurt home–the second still stands at Applecheek Farm, where we apprenticed before finding our own land. Edge built this one from saplings that dotted an old sugaring road in the Applecheek woods. He sawed and hauled and split and assembled each piece with his own hands, his own muscle, and now it encircles us and holds us through these cold winter days.
Though we talk more of a house these days, it’s the yurt that has brought us to where we are. It’s a yurt that became my home during my first earnest search for wildness, and a yurt that is my home still, as we cultivate our own wild hearts and grow our roots deep into this land.