The Yurt

The Yurt

A man works on the roof of a wooden yurt in a hillside field overlooking the ocean. In 1999, I built a yurt in northern Cape Breton.

Actually, my little round cabin bares little resemblance to the nomadic tents from the steppes of Mongolia. Those are made of felt. Mine is a wooden structure built from plans drawn by the late Bill Coperthwaite, founder of the Yurt Foundation, who I visited with my father in the outback of Maine when I was a child.

I used an old wagon wheel for a skylight, an old power pole cable for a tension band, wide pine boards on the interior, cast off slabs on the outside, wood shingles on the roof. All told, it cost a few hundred bucks in materials. And I worked on it for two summers, when I had time between fishing and my other projects. Friends lent an occasional hand.Y-7

The building caught the imagination of the community’s children.Rolling scrubby hills at the edge of the ocean with a tiny wooden yurt nestled in. People used to drive down the Cove Road to take a look at the “flying saucer” that had landed in the field. Once it was built, I never locked the door. It became a favorite spot for many. The round wooden interior has amazing acoustics, like being inside a drum.

In 2003, when I left for South Africa, I got a man with a big tractor to help me move it to a more protected spot behind my father’s house. There it stands still, with an amazing view of Bay St Lawrence and the setting sun, snakes and wasps nesting in the wagon-wheel-spoke rafters, a cozy bed for whomever needs it.