I stirred in my sleep, troubled by something in my surroundings. As I slowly become more aware I could hear the flapping of canvas in the wind and the creak of wooden timbers. Before I could become fully awake we were overtaken by a massive billow out of the south, attacking us with all the fury of a freight train and I thought for sure we would sink to our deaths on the high seas. I realized moments later that the nearest tempest on the sea couldn’t be closer than five or six hundred miles away and that Hannah and I were in our bed at home, albeit a shaken and wind blasted home.
Hannah and I live in a yurt, which if you are unfamiliar with Mongolian culture is a round hut. Traditionally the Mongols use thick felt to cover their yurt frames, which is about all the useful knowledge I have of traditional yurt building other than that the open fires inside cause awful lung problems and they are always built to face East. Apparently the Mongols pride themselves on their ability to align their yurts perfectly to the East, though when tested their yurts are found to face about any direction they please. Our yurt is a little more sophisticated than these, and it faces somewhat South-West.
Our yurt has a lattice-work frame to hold its circle shape and is supported by a stud framework. The exterior is covered with a heavy synthetic canvas and is lined with an air-bubble insulation layer. We are safely secured to a pretty solid slab of concrete which we have plumbed with all of the modern conveniences and floor heating. We have been working on it as much as time has allowed for nearing four months now and things are pretty well along. What the recent wind showed us was all of the cracks around the base of the walls that needed filled in and reminded us how close we really were to the elements.
When living in a yurt one is keenly aware of what is happening outside. You can’t hide from the roar of the wind and the sound of falling rain. The only thing between inside and outside is about half an inch of canvas and plastic. We are only a few steps away at all times of a door that when opened will send the outside straight through you on a cold day, or on a better day send you right out into the gloriously beautiful world we live in. Inside and outside is less defined here in our yurt.
Thankfully the definition is clear enough to keep things warm inside. When the mercury had its legs knocked out from beneath it and fell almost all the way to the single digits before catching itself we stayed nice and toasty, thanks to the wood stove roaring away. That morning, I thought that the yurt had become a little chilly over the night until I opened the door and had an icy blast to the face after which I realized it was quite warm inside. The woodstove is such a wonderful heater, and as they say you get to heat twice with wood: once while you split it and stack it and again when you burn it. Also much better than an open fire pit churning out choking smoke.
Regardless of how our yurt keeps the wind or the icy teeth of winter at bay, it has been great to start getting settled in. The place becomes more homelike every day, with an end in sight for the interior work which means we get a break for the winter to work on expanding our maple sugar bushes and planning for the summer garden season, since the winter snows mean that landscaping is kind of out for the house. We’re also hoping to see some more people dropping in to visit and get out of the cold to stand by the fire and listen to the fiddle music, though at best the fiddle sounds like nails on a chalkboard when I play with it. Here’s to learning new things, however, and to the season ahead.