I Cannot Find My Tiny
for Dean Young
In the age of horses, everyone was
born with their own tiny pony to protect.
It was a large responsibility and they
felt themselves crumpling under the weight of it.
To keep their ponies safe, the people
carried them deep inside of their chest cavities.
They called them Tiny.
Everywhere, people ran wild across the prairies and
then they would remember their Tiny and crumple.
And then gallop once more and then again
they would crumple. The sound of the crumpling
was very pleasing, but the rest of it was not.
The landscape looked like a western,
all of the people either galloping free like the cowboys
or else crumpled in little mounds like dead Indians.
In their Tinies, they knew what was missing.
They were very insecure.
If I were there now, I’d say, “I feel funny.”
I’d say, “Please, let’s go for a trot.” I’d say,
“Just let me into your ribcage.”
And you’d whinny at me.
That is, if I even knew where to find you.
~ Rebecca Bridge
I came across this poem a couple years ago, long before I had ever heard of tiny houses. I was looking for something meaningful in my life and was taken with it’s longing and evocativeness, it’s raw, tender passion.
During the twelve hour drive back to California, I had a lot of time to reflect back on my first month of construction. While tiny houses and simplicity are often uttered in the same breath, I learned there isn’t much that’s simple about the building of a tiny house.
Recalling the poem, I realized that building a house is a lot like growing a relationship…
From Alice to Ocean now joins my well-worn and well-loved mementos of Robyn Davidson’s journey.
Those of you who read my first blog post, On camels and tiny houses, know that one of my huge influences as a kid was the National Geographic story on Robyn Davidson’s trek alone across the Australian outback with her camels. I was completely floored the other day when Rick Smolan, the photographer for the story and who has since gone on to do other incredible photojournalism projects, wrote on my blog. I was even more amazed when he offered to send me a copy of From Alice to Ocean, the coffee table book he did documenting Robyn’s trek (also see the addendum to the Blood, sweat, tears, blueberries & the most awesome three walls ever… post for yet another interesting connection).
Yesterday, 35 years ago to the month from when I first got that magazine in the mail, I received Rick’s book. It was a strange feeling leafing through the beautiful, vivid photographs accompanied by excerpts from Robyn’s book Tracks. It transported me back those many years and to the other side of the world. It was like no time had passed. I was in awe all over again.
But it’s also notable because it’s a reminder just how small the world can be. This has been coming up again and again since starting this blog, demonstrating what is good about the internet: it brings people together in ways you’d never dream. Rick’s thoughtful gift is also a reminder about how a small gesture can have great meaning for whom it’s bestowed upon – the power of random acts of kindness. Ridiculous perhaps, but, holding it in my hands, it feels significant, like things have come full circle; a sort of biblio-benediction from the gods that this tiny house – or at least the journey – was meant to be. That feels very heartwarming.
My first post talked about how I saw parallels between Robyn’s journey and my decision to build a tiny house. I was going to elaborate more on that but realized that Robyn and Rick put if far more perfectly than I can —
Lion’s Mane. Source: Congaree National Park
This is the third, and final, installment of the swamp saga. If you want to catch up, read the beginning and the middle.
So where were we? Oh yes, we were still lost in the miasma, losing all definition of where our bodies ended and the swamp began. And running short on food. The only good thing about those best-forgotten days was Peter came back from his vomitous, stygian trip to Hades. There wasn’t much he could do but he at least he was now our fearless leader again as we paddled in circles. Once in a while we would hear a plane fly high overhead and we’d try to find an opening in the trees, waving our paddles frantically. Surely they would send a search party at some point. But nothing. Nada. Back to paddling. Continue reading
Eastern screech owl. Tiny package, big voice. Photo: Congaree National Park
This is the second installment of my tale of being lost in a swamp. If you want to see how we got here, click to the beginning.
When last we left our band of intrepid, if terrified, paddlers, we were experiencing a harrowing night. Turns out the shrieking monkey slaughter sounds were pint-sized screech owls, not much bigger than starlings, but that didn’t do much to calm our pounding hearts. I don’t think any of us slept much. We were all totally out of our element. We’d left the last comfort zone miles back, somewhere by the fried quail. Continue reading
Eastern cottonmouth. Source: Congaree National Park.
Way back in the days of yore, I spent a week lost in a swamp. I’m not exactly sure what this has to do with tiny houses, but it’s been coming up for me a lot lately and I thought I’d share my tale of adventure. I will try to find some brilliant analogy by the time I get to the final installment!
I went to college in Ohio and being from Oregon, it was a little too far and too expensive to go home on breaks. I found out that another student, a tall, strapping blonde named Peter, nicknamed Bam Bam, led outdoor trips. I went on an awesome backpacking trip of his in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, wading through bright yellow leaves, the crystal blue of the great lake shining through white birch trees. That trip went off without a hitch, other than someone, perhaps me, forgot to wash out the shampoo bottle we used to hold the Yukon Jack we warmed ourselves with after fast baths in the icy waters.
Spring rolled around and I was again adrift come break time. When Peter suggested canoeing in what was then the Congaree Swamp National Monument in South Carolina, I was immediately on board. Continue reading