Ten years ago, at Spirit Hollow, a shamanic school tucked back in the
Taconic Mountains of Vermont, I fell in love with yurts. I was bedazzled
by an exotic tent, with a framed door, wooden floor, diamond latticed
walls and rays of rafters, arching out from a central sky light. I was
dumbstruck by the complex beauty and warmth of a tent in Green
We fall in love with people and things that invite us to live an unlived
aspect of ourselves. All my life, I’ve longed to live outdoors, close to
nature and yet I have found myself laboring to survive. living in a
mortgaged house, driving a bank owned car to commute to work that
allowed me to live an indoor life that I didn’t really want. I was forever
running short of time, energy and money. Getting to the mountains
became a chore. When I did get to the mountains on weekends, I didn’t
want to leave them and return to work when the weekend ended. If I
had known how, I would have run away from civilized life and lived with
In the yurt my divergent worlds came together. Conflicting life needs
and intentions found unity. My natural world and my civilized world
intersected. A yurt was more beautiful than any camp, house or even
mansion that I had ever seen. Light beamed in from a center circle in the
roof, through radiating wooden rafters to fall on a familiar wooden floor.
In a yurt I was warm, dry and comfortable and yet open to the sounds of
the wind in the maples and water in the nearby stream. I loved the
experience. I wanted a yurt. I wanted a Pacific Yurt like the one at Spirit
Later as I worked in Boston, seventy hours per week, at a Fortune 500
company, making more money than I had at any point in my life, I daydreamed
of yurts. I sketched yurts set beside a roaring brook, in
Arlington, in Vermont’s Kelly Stand. I made calculations of the cost of
acreage, cost of a bridge to cross the river, cost of a floor and the cost of
a Pacific Yurt sixteen feet in diameter. I would calculate the month of
next year that I could afford to actualize my dreams.
In the next year, down-sized by life, aching for simplicity, living in an
attic room and tending an organic garden belonging to friends, my head
was still full of yurts. Purchasing land and a Pacific Yurt was now out of
the question. I obtained books by Len Charney, Paul King and Dan
Kuehn and down loaded a paper by Charles Lokey, works that would
comprise the books of my yurt bible. I studied with religious fervor.
Could I build a yurt, bit by bit, over the next several years?
How hard could it to build a yurt? Could I drill six holes in an eight foot
stick? Could I drill six holes in sixty-six, eight foot sticks? Could I tie a
knot at two ends of a cord after threading the cord through holes that I
drilled? I knew I could do all of this and build a yurt wall, and from this
place, I believed I could take on the rest of it. But could I really?
“A year and a half to complete everything”, I thought, but could I design
and construct something that would fit and hold together, would actually
work? To my amazement and joy, within two months, I moved into a
new sixteen foot diameter yurt, my “ger” (Mongolian for “home”) all at a
cost of less than $1000 or about one tenth of the cost of a Pacific Yurt.
Baku, a Japanese friend of mine said, “It wasn’t that God helped you
build a yurt. It’s more like you helped God build it.”
How this all happen, step by step, the ideas, the calculations, designs,
construction ideas that led to the simplest plan possible, the good
fortune and blind luck that completed my yurt-home is the story that follows.