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The Yurt Blog

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Follow me through a journey into self and partake in the many trials and tribulations of yurt life completely off the grid. This life that I've chosen is a frugal life learning as I go. I've learned that trusting my heart and spending time listening to the land is the best way to learn. We spend our lives trying to figure out how we can fit nature into our lives when we should be walking humbled into nature to ask how we can fit in with her.



Willie the Woodspirit PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Masters   
Sunday, 17 October 2010 22:31

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A woodcarver by the name of John Melo from StickIT Creations found his way to LUNA this past weekend, the reason wasn't quite known until late yesterday afternoon.

For those of you who have been to LUNA, you all know the story of the old man who has been wandering the property in search of Willie (Billie). An old man who has been seen by my late father and my brother several times throughout their lives. Even my sister has seen this old man wandering the road with cane or maybe a shotgun in hand.

Yesterday, with chisel in hand and focused eye that can look deep into the soul of a tree, John uncovered Willie. Willie has been hiding in an old Cherry Tree in our Tree Lounge here at LUNA, and none of this came to light until John shared this story with me when he was done.

Willie the woodspirit loved to play,
He'd dance and sing and run all day.
He'd teach the newborn birds to sing,
And mend a Robin's broken wing.

"Till one day, while running thru woods,
An evil spirit, before him stood.
He cast a spell to make Willie sleep,
And placed him inside a tree to keep.

There he stayed for many a year,
Until one day, what did he hear?
A chopping sound, some scrapes, some cuts,
Poor little Willie thought he'd gone nuts.

But the sound grew louder, it was getting close,
And before he knew it, he could wiggle his nose.
And soon he felt the wind on his cheek,
Dare he open his eyes and take a peek?

He summoned his courage and opened one eye,
Looked all around and up to the sky.
When what did he see when he gazed up above?
A man with a chisel, a hat and a glove.

A man with a wonderful look in his eyes,
A man who listened and heard Willie's cries.
And set Willie free from his prison of timber,
That carver of wood, he will always
remember.

Unknow Author

When you come to LUNA, look deep into the heart of the forest, there, you will find Willie

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Last Updated on Sunday, 17 October 2010 23:04
 
Everything Speaks PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Masters   
Tuesday, 31 August 2010 17:03
We slowly dance around the closing fire, jockeying for that perfect smoke free spot. The wind is coming in off the lake and cascading our site with cloud of smoke from a fresh bundle of rain soaked branches placed on the fire. As I lay on the rocky shore trying to escape the smoke, he says to me "Maybe the smoke is the last words the branches are speaking to the trees". "What do you mean" I say. "Well, there is energy everywhere and the trees are alive, maybe the energy from the branches is talking to the trees one last time". "When did you start thinking like this?" I asked as he wiped a tear from his face. "When you taught me, when you told me that trees are alive".

This ten year old boy, sitting by the fire, now still believes in magic and understands that he is connected to everything and directly linked to the symphony of life. Just the week before as he pulled out his slingshot and starting hitting an old white pine, I asked him "Do you think the tree likes that? Maybe you should ask the tree if it's alright". At the time I didn't think much of it, but these simple words to a child really helped him to look at the forest in a new way. In a way that magic and little people abound and he can now, if he wishes, talk to everything.

 

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 August 2010 17:06
 
Walking Plants PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Masters   
Saturday, 10 July 2010 00:40

Change has always been a part of all life, however changes in nature happen at a pace that most of us never have the chance to witness. We either don't spend enough time in one place, or we get too caught up in our day to day lives and manufactured landscapes to really care to notice.

When I first built the yurt in May 2005, the flood plain beside Beaver Creek was full of Burdocks. Over the years, the Burdocks have given way to Giant Ragweed, Dames Rocket and Jewelweed. Just last year the Jewelweed was so abundant that it served as a great teaching tool to discuss the medicinal properties of wild plants. It has now completely walked off to a different part of the property entirely. Even the Raspberries have changed, over the years they had been harvested by local visitors traipsing through the brush. The very next season Stinging Nettle was flanking their sides keeping unsuspecting travelers at bay.

It was almost as if the plants where talking to one another calling in the warriors for help. No one eats the raspberries anymore, although the stinging nettle has proven to be a great medicinal tea for those in need.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 10 July 2010 00:44
 
Change is a foot... PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Masters   
Saturday, 29 May 2010 21:15

The past few months have been quite challenging for me here at LUNA. With new staff, new programs, new office...basically a new company was taking hold of my dreams and growing faster than I'd expected. With so many people last year coming through my little tent in the woods, I've been feeling like I've almost given up all my personal privacy. I really must heed my own advise, being much more careful what I wish for.

When I started LUNA three years ago, I was hoping people would come to listen, come to learn, come to understand and come to heal. Come they have, by the hundreds they've arrived and it seems that when they leave, a small part of the property, or a small part of myself goes with them. It's almost like a transference of energy per say. Shed all the negative and take home the positive.

As of lately, I've tried to find old ways of connecting myself to the environment again, unwinding after 37 children have run through these forests is extremely important for me. I've turned once again to barefoot hiking. Just before sunset, I slip off my shoes and almost instantly the cool clay beneath my toes has balanced me again. My pace has slowed. Walking through the hawthorn grove, I stopped at the site where I used to camp when I was thirteen. Pausing beside the moss covered stones of my fire circle I thought back to the nights I sat afraid in my tent. There, beneath the old maple I looked up into her canopy and remembered what it was like to feel safe in her branches. I sat barefoot in that old tree for almost an hour that night, watching as two deer in the valley tried to figure what I was doing in a tree. I thought to myself, "if anyone could see me now, 36 and barefoot in a tree, they may just think I've flipped my lid".

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Times...they are a changing PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Masters   
Saturday, 20 March 2010 17:52
I have to admit, there is something nice about having the insulation liners off the windows so that I can gaze outside and listen to the songs of newly arriving birds. Typically the window covers stay in place until winter loosens its grip and the air begins to warm. The purpose of the window covers is to keep valued heat from escaping through the thin windows of the yurt.

As I sit here there is a part of me that worries that this is happening earlier each and every year. Normally all four window covers are on until mid April, it's now mid March and they're all off. I may regret this in a week or two and I hope I do because it's just too early for the snow to be gone and green grass to be appearing on the trails.

Over the past 5 years of living and uncovering LUNA, I've noticed countless changes of which I wish kept better journals on. Changes like; on June 9th of 2007 the fireflies were at their peak, in 2008 their arrival was almost 3 weeks later. Subtle changes like this happen each and every year. I have now realized the importance of documenting this to follow these changes. Five years may have passed, however it's never too late to change.

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Patchwork Quilt PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Masters   
Wednesday, 03 March 2010 14:55
Through life, we acquire memories and pictures taken by our minds eye that get filed deep inside, with hopes of wrapping ourselves in the warm embrace of these memories in times of need. Tonight, I've tucked a very special picture away.

As I returned home from packing for another winter camping trip, I walked away from the truck watching my shadow walk slowly through the evening snow. The moon is bright and the snow is deep. Every tree branch hangs tight to this white gift from above. As I stood at the top of the hill, I looked down with anticipation of the warmth inside the yurt. A beam of light illuminating high from the dome and splashing from the kitchen window onto the trees and fresh fallen snow. A single column of smoke puffs gracefully from the chimney and the flickering glow of the woodstove warms the heart and mind of this yurt dweller and places a new patch in my ever grown quilt of memories.

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This Old Barn PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Masters   
Tuesday, 09 February 2010 19:31

Now that the dust has settled and the mud has frozen, I can safely say that our barn renovation at Pine Brae Acres is complete.

In November we decided to undertake a project that would have a crew of Mennonite contractors help with the restoration of a 140 year old timber frame barn. As a child, this barn was always a place to escape, play and explore for myself and my siblings. The years as of late have not been kind on this old barn. As a family, we never had cattle in the basement, and as this was a "bank" barn, that added heat from the cattle kept the frost out of the walls. As the water slowly worked its way into the foundation, the harsh frost of the winter would push heavy on her 2' think basement walls. As the years passed on, the barn developed quite a lean and was slowly moving south. I saw an opportunity to restore the foundation and help give this barn a second life so that maybe one day we could have animals in the basement to complement our outdoor education programs.

With a flurry of activity, the contractors started punching holes in the basement and prepped the old girl for a new concrete and cinder block foundation. Sometimes, fate deals us a set of cards we never expected. With the north and south walls of the foundation removed I watched in amazement when the tow-truck arrived and moved this massive building back to her original glory, a new set of braces were placed underneath to hold her fast. As the excavator ripped hard into the west wall, leaving only the east wall remaining, she decided a partial restoration was not in the mix.

I sat and watched in shock as the old timber frame walls dropped almost 4 feet and the entire project started to crumble to pieces. Watching a barn of this size creek and grone as gravity pushed hard, I looked at all the gear, canoes, tractors, and cars inside and thought to myself "what the hell have I done". The old contractor came up to me and said "Well David, it looks like she's got to come down. It's too far gone to save now. I know you wanted the barn saved, so it looks like we'll have to rebuild her. I want you to have a nice barn David". The next day the troops arrived and tore the old girl to the ground in an amazing 7 hours. All the barn board, roofing, and flooring was saved and given to the contractor as partial payment.

In a couple of weeks after seeing these hand hewn timbers laying in the mud, she was back up and almost better than ever. A stronger floor, insulated basement and new face lift has the old timbers inside singing with thanks. We kept the old hay forks, pulleys, and even took it as far as having each rafter custom made to fit the joints in the original timbers. It hard to see the old gone, but in time this barn will darken and weather and last well into the next century where more children and adults can build their fond memories of this old barn.

 

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 March 2010 15:14
 
Time to disconnect PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Masters   
Saturday, 06 February 2010 20:06

Every once in awhile it's nice to disconnect again. Sometimes it's not a planned disconnection for me but I welcome it now with open arms. A couple of nights ago, while listening to the CBC on a very cold winters evening, my power unexpectedly shut down. The winter tends to be the leanest time of year for power generation here, as we have limited sun which is my largest percentage of generation. The cold also plays havoc on my crude little power system. Batteries don't like the cold too much, and while mine are sitting at the top of a hill in a Rubbermaid box that is stuffed with insulation, this is not a recommended way to live a life off the grid. The issue is that when I started this project, I started with very little money and little knowledge on what I was doing. As time rolled on, so did my knowledge of what worked and what I was doing wrong. Normally, a hybrid power system consists of photovoltaic panels, wind generator and a back up gas generator. This is what my little systems consists of now. I found in winters past that when my batteries became too low from overuse, I would fire up the gas generator and run it for 12 or so hours to fully recharge the batteries. This keeps them fresh and prolongs their live as you're not over discharging them. Well, with a financially lean winter this year, I was faced to decide if I wanted to put gas in my generator so I could watch television and play on Facebook, or buy some extra groceries to see me through till my next gig. Inevitably, I spent too much time on the computer and wasted too much time watching television causing my precious power reserves to become depleted and not leaving me with enough to even run the fan for my composting toilet. Rather than getting bent out of shape at this, I decided to embrace it and take the opportunity for self reflection, reading, and I even started the odd craft. I found myself freed from the connection I have to the little bit of power I use. I was reading by candlelight and spent a great deal of the evening just listening. This is what the original yurt experience was for me, this is what I somehow wanted again. Every now and then I encourage you to try the same, go into your basement and flick the breaker and choose to "disconnect" with your family. It may just be the best evening you've spent with them in a while.

 

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