Week 8: Tipi or Not Tipi?
I’ve asked myself this question for several months, and today I pulled the last stake from the ground and dismantled my tipi.
Often times when people want to make a decision they will make a pros and cons list. My mother often instructed me in this exercise as a child. Today I rarely, actually never, physically write down a list. I just think about things in my head… and maybe I think about them a little too much.
In order to fully understand why I needed to dismantle the tipi, I needed to look back and reflect on why I got it in the first place. Why the fuck did I get that tipi? Well, my original plan involved camping in various backyards of friends. I wanted to build underground scout shelters in these yards and just hop from one to the next. I nice idea, but way off base. After building one scout shelter in my friend Al’s yard and seeing it become an instant pond, suitable only for the loch ness monster, I knew I would need to change my strategy. Erin suggested a tipi and though I thought it may look terrible, I also found humor in the irony. So I ordered a small childs size (hell I have short legs!), constructed it and learned a lot more about tipis.
Fast forward several months. I know the natives of this region did not use tipis. I know that the moisture of the northwest encourages all kinds of mold to grow. I know that they lived in cedar houses here, which have rot resistant properties. I even figured that a tipi would end up getting moldy. But I never thought it would happen so fast!
I began sleeping in the tipi in early April. I slept there about 50 percent of the time and over at Sasha’s the other 50 percent. I’ve read that indians had fires constantly going in tipis, keeping them warm and dry. Because of the size of my tipi, I could not have a fire in it comfortably. I rarely had a fire in it, and even then not for very long. For this reason, the ground under the tipi remained somewhat damp. I put down cedar bows hoping that would discourage mold and rot. I sewed a wool interior or “lining” as some call it. The cedar bows lay between the wet ground and the wool lining, however the lining never seemed to dry out. Though it didn’t seem to mold either.
When Sasha and I broke up I started sleeping at Erins house, only not in the tipi, but in the guest bedroom. I wanted to re-evaluate why I chose a tipi and if it has helped me get where I want to go with this project, at all. So a few weeks of depression, confusion and trips out of town with my family, kept me from checking on the tipi. During this time the average daily high-temperature rose from 55 degrees to 65 degrees to around 70 degrees. The other day my friend Melani took some pictures of me for a ReadyMade magazine article (comes out in a few months, I’ll post which issue up here) and we shot a few in front of the tipi. When I lifted the door I found a surprise: THOUSANDS OF EARWIGS! Yes, like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I climbed inside and found another surprise; Mold. LOTS OF MOLD.
Insects hatch, mold blooms. Ah, I just love springtime in the Northwest. No seriously, I love it. But this… I don’t know. I realized the time had come to throw in the tipi and move inside.
I have problems with moving inside… The first obviously problem I see involves paying rent, which wraps me back into the monetary economy. The second problem involves the lack of primitivism or perceived primitivism in living in a house that remains hooked to the grid, the water, the internet. I mean, I need those things, but I feel weird getting them this way. I feel like civilization has yanked my leash and reeled me back in. And maybe it has. But really, I have to keep referring back to my own writing on what it means to live primitively.
You see, I have this Tom Brown Jr. shit engrained so fucking deep in my head I find it near impossible to dig out. Though I spout that primitivism involves people living comfortable lives in their bioregions using thousands of years of traditions… I still have this idea that primitivism means “walking into the woods with only the clothes on your back.”
Primitive peoples of the Northwest lived in houses. So why do I insist on sleeping in moldy, non-bioregion specific shelters? Oh yeah, I thought it would make people laugh. Well, I guess you can have the last laugh. I’ve moved indoors…
I took some pictures as I dismantled the tipi that I’d like to share with you. This first one shows you how the lining works.
This next photo only reveals a glimpse of the number of earwigs I found in here. I guess they had mostly dispersed by the time I took this. Though they seem spread out and in a small cluster, the whole tipi looked like this. Gross! But also… fascinating!
Next we’ve got some of the mold. Remember, none of this existed 3 weeks ago.
You can see in some of those pictures that the mold actually ate through the wool! I planned to throw the whole interior lining away, but Erin encouraged me to save what I could. The wool that did not touch the ground seemed fine, so I walked around the tipi and trimmed it off, leaving the moldy part on the ground:
Then I threw away the moldy wool and put the cedar bows in a pile to burn. Underneath the cedar I found another world of crazy insects and spiders, like these gems:
Ever seen a tipi track before? Check out this one:
Okay, and now I give you…
Urban Scout’s Weekly Laundry List: Week 8
I think I got that one covered already.
Still drinking from the tap.
Played with fire. I mean, metaphorically.
Sandy River Score
1. Broadleaf Plantain – My friend Shaun Deller says you can eat these. I always just thought they worked well for bee stings.
2. Dandelion Leaves – A good standby. Bitter, but I mean, all this shit tastes bitter.
3. Chickweed – I hear this gets women totally fucked up, yo.
4. Miners Lettuce – Another good standby.
5. Young Salal Berry leaves – I don’t know. They looked good, so I ate them.
6. Stinging Nettle – I picked this shit barehanded, using the pinch technique.
7. Salmonberries – I made these into a smoothie!
Delicious store bought meat. I need to go fishing or something.
Walk and bike. Bike finally working okay.
Before, I used to take a shower every morning. No I shower maybe once a week. Mostly because I don’t have a towel and don’t want to keep borrowing shit from Erin. I mean, it feels hot enough now to shower with rain water in the backyard. I’ll try that one this week.
I’ve had some alcohol here and there and in between. I got into a show for free at the Doug Fir… I still don’t know how that happened. Know the right people I guess. Other than that, biking for fun, writing for fun and cooking for fun. Real exciting, no?
I haven’t had much time to think about practicing awareness. Now that I’ve moved into Erin’s though I feel like my new routines will work well for this.
Did I meet last weeks goals?
Well… Since I didn’t even have any goals last week… Yes! I met last weeks goals! Finally, a score of 100%.
Okay, but seriously… These goals I set the week Sasha and I broke up, so I will try to have these goals finished for Week 9:
* Burn Bowl. Make one dammit! (I got the bowl but not the burn)
* Boil spearmint tea with hot rocks. (Nope)
* Set up a dead fall, work on a snare.
* Work more on stone axe.
* Make spear blade.
* 5 more entries in the Rewild Field Guide
Okay. Thanks for reading!
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