January 11, 2014

Pointy Tents are Made for Babies.

I was a pretty lucky baby. My mom adored me, and I got to live in a neat tent that looked like a wizard's hat. It was comprised of big sticks that held up a triangle of canvas that had convenient flaps for going in and out. I enjoyed the experience without doing any of the hard work and was able to participate in many non traditional baby activities such as playing with matches (photo not shown, it does exist), casually posing by the screen door, playing with my giant dog who seemed to think she was my babysitter, not wearing shoes, and frequently, pants. I have two early memories. One is of soft white walls diffusing daylight, the other is eating cold sticky brown rice stuck onto the of the bottom of a pot. 
Just hangin' by my screen door
Her food looks pretty good

These memory fragments are from the time when my family lived in a tipi where I spent the first two years of my life on a field in the mountains of south eastern British Columbia. My parents were part of a subculture trend of "going back to the land", a group that was characterized by hippies and draft dodgers. My parents weren't true hippies, though many of their friends were, and our lifestyle was unconventional in the sense that we did not have electricity, running water, indoor  plumbing or rooms for a significant portion of my childhood. With the exception of a brief period on Vancouver Island where my brother was born, I did not get my own real bedroom until I was 13 years old (thankfully I got my own bedroom at 13 years old).

Idyllic now, wait for rain

Our first home was self-deprecatingly referred to as a 'white man' tipi. Perhaps this is breaking some law of political correctness, but there were a few reasons why this slur makes sense. For example, First Nations groups in that area lived in dugout homes, thus we culturally appropriated the wrong type of dwelling for our geography. In addition, it contained accoutrements of standard western living that would trigger an apoplectic fit in an anthropologist. Things like a table, a dresser, a two burner propane cooking stove, an outdoor dish washing area fashioned from an ironing board with ivory soap, an oil drum wood stove fashioned by Rattlesnake Bill (stove pipe peaking out off smoke flap) and the Ubiquitous Metal Tub. 
Ubiquitous Metal Tub makes first appearance 

And yes, we did live it in winter. The tipi was a temporary dwelling, my mother father and I lived in it for two years. During that time my father built a cabin in which we lived until I was 13.
Snow, it works as insulation

Next week, the joy of acquiring water and more about the Ubiquitous Metal Tub.
My mothers description of moving to this area can be found here: http://freegreenliving.blogspot.ca/2007_10_01_archive.html


Alexander van Houten said...

One of my three earliest memories is of touching the barrel stove. A mistake I never repeated. By this time we had moved into the log house.

Ien in the Kootenays said...

WHERE did you get these pictures? Please email me as attachments?

Ien in the Kootenays said...

Rattlesnake Bill was an old prospector in the Grand Forks region. Apart from looking for whatever it is prospectors look for he caught rattlesnakes to milk for venom. I think it is used in a serum to cure bites. Chris got to know him in the context of the geology job that brought us to the Kootenays to begin with. The barrel heater had a flat top that we could cook on of needed. It was also big enough to handle large chunks of wood that was too wet as well.

Lizard Queen said...

I rescued an old photo album from water damage in the cabin, it ended up in my stuff.

Ien in the Kootenays said...

Glad you did. Log cabin, and other shelters from that time. http://freegreenliving.blogspot.ca/2007/11/proud-tradition-of-diy-housing.html