Determination and the Stove Pipe

Sep 25, 2018
Determination and the Stove Pipe


Many of you may be following the awareness school adventures of our new land, seeing posts about the permaculture experts helping us and all that we are up to.

Many stories and deeper insights have emerged from this summer, especially from my time alone.

My “vision quest” was not at all what one imagines a traditional vision quest to be or any other myriad iterations of that term.

For instance:

I sleep in a glamping tent.

I don’t fast.

I don’t remain in one spot until a messenger has come to me.

My vision quest is a journey inward, a solo retreat, and I believe we can do our own “vision questing” in our backyard if necessary. Perhaps using the term vision quest is the wrong thing,

Part of this solo time happened during a burn ban due to high smoke in the area coupled with dropping temperatures. I was really cold at night and after sitting for 4 hours watching dusk turn into dark, I found that I was shivering.

The sleeping bag did not even get me warm.

This was after a day of inner turmoil facing demons, self-pity, and heartbreak from family dynamics. I was shedding my skin and deeply feeling within my Being. I hugged the 3-story maple tree more than twice. I cried at her roots.

I did not understand what I was feeling half the time and did not try to define it. I simply was allowing it to move within me as one does with grief and sorrow.

When I awoke the next morning, I knew that I had to put the stovepipe for the glamping tent together so I could light an enclosed fire in the tent.

This is survival.

The problem with the scenario was that the hole in the pitched roof was far beyond my reach. I needed to get a six-inch diameter 15-foot pipe into that hole.

First revelation: The pipe is larger at the top than the bottom, but I didn’t figure that out until I tried to shove it up through the ceiling from inside the tent. Going from the outside in was the only way. I could not take the pipe sections apart and reassemble on the tent roof. This was out of the question because you can’t stand on a walled tent canvas roof.

I had no ladder and considered going into town but I had no rack on the mini and couldn’t have it hanging out the back of the car.

It was make-do time.

I pulled the picnic bench over to the unlevel ground by the side of the tent and thought how stupid this all was, especially if I fell off way out here in nowhere with no road, no phone service with a broken leg.

The scene in my head played out faster than a time-lapse video as I crawled down the ¼ mile path, dragging my leg behind me and unable to reach an ambulance and unable to drive the stick shift to the hospital.

Back to the task at hand.

I stood and wobbled a bit on the bench, then attempted this with a 15-foot pipe in my hands. I could just get the pipe up to the hole above me, but the angle was not right for it to slide down into the hole. I had about an inch to clear before that happened. I tried to get this pipe in the hole several times before reducing to a pool of tears.

I then proceeded to think of ways to elevate the picnic bench, each idea more precarious than the predicament I was in… more scenes of hospital rooms and broken bones.

I then took the pipe back in the tent and attempted to “see” the angle at which this pipe was actually going to go in the hole. How far off was I really? It seemed so close and normally I would have given up by now, seeking help, but there was no help.

This brought up so many things in me, my own perceived helplessness, the ease with which I was willing to give up, the frustration mounting, and the memory of how cold it was the night before. I was trying to come up with new ideas.

Meanwhile, hours had passed since I started the project.

Something came over me. It was a determination of sorts, a willful got-to-get-it-done feeling. It came after tears, frustration, defeat, more self-pity, blaming Sean for not taking care of this weekends ago, cursing the tent-makers, and inexplicable fear of exaggerated proportions.

This time I took the pipe in hand, stepped onto the bench, got on my tiptoes and tried again and again. If only you could have seen me. You would have been laughing your asses off.

I knew I was really close and it became this event of survival.

Finally, I decided to try a jump and thrust technique on the wobbly picnic bench.

It goes in…

I triumphantly race into the tent only to realize I can’t get the flue in the bottom section of pipe. I can’t get the bottom section removed. I pull and pull. I sit and ponder how the whole thing is a telescope and try to analyze the physics of it all in order to understand why this pipe won’t slide apart.

Another pool of tears.

Finally, I start hitting the pipe and see a little movement. Tap tap tap and I see a separation starting. Turn tap turn tap and yes…the pipe section falls off. In goes the flue, reassemble, and into the tiny wood-burning stove.

I feel a huge release. I feel accomplishment. I feel power in having done this on my own.

Suddenly, my mind plays out new scenes of the tent catching on fire once I light the fire. I can’t call the fire rescue and my land goes up in flames in this burn ban environment. The tent is burnt to the ground and I am in tears watching my land being destroyed. I could run to a neighbor’s house a mile away. I could run until I had cellphone coverage.

I could go to an Airbnb.

I cannot for the life of me light that fire.

Finally, evening shadows descend and I am freezing again.

I listen to the quiet of the forest, the screeching of the barred owls, and the beating of my own heart. I watch the colors gradually change from indigo to navy blue. The stars are speaking to me.

I go into my tent and light the tiniest of stick fires to test the waters. Smoke rises from the chimney and the tent begins to permeate with the most luscious warmth I have felt in a long time.

Even Sweetie the dog is blissful.

Stay tuned for more adventures in the weeks to come.




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