Out of the Archives: Tipi Tales

Readers have made it clear that one of their favorite things on our blog is the series of stories from when we lived on the homestead. Called Tipi Tales, the first one was written and published in May of ’07. In honor of our Bloggiversary, here’s a repost of that first Tipi Tale…

When I was 13 my family moved to a tipi in upstate New York to homestead. For years I have longed to tell the stories of our adventure on top of a hill in the country, carving out a lifestyle that belonged to another century, but I have never known where to start. What day marked the beginning? How do I explain how we came to be there? Which story comes first? Maybe this one…

My first memories of the homestead are green, which is odd, since we moved on a cold, muddy, snowy day – April First, 1995. To this day, Mom jokes that she had hoped that day that it was all a huge April Fool’s Joke. We had left the cozy, homey suburbs of Raleigh in the middle of the night, saying tearful goodbyes to the dear friends who had housed us for the night after all our belongings had been packed into the big yellow truck. Dad, Mom, 6 kids, and two friends, in three vehicles pulled out of the long gravel driveway and on our way. Away from the city, the lights, and all things familiar, towards new goals and unknown challenges. Onto the interstate, getting in 6 hours of driving before dawn. Past cities, Richland, D.C., Wilkesbarre, through the hills of Pennsylvania, to a valley in the the southern tier of New York. Our route took us between low hills and ran beside an old canal flowing North to South – we reached Chenango county by mid-morning. The children woke to a different world, and it would literally be years before it quite felt like home again.

Ten hours of driving behind us, we pulled into the ‘driveway’ of our new property, and faced the most challenging part of the journey: 1/4 mile long, half frozen, half muddy, steep and unwelcoming, the old logging trail slopped up toward the top of the hill. An early spring snow was doing its best to brighten the dull landscape of grays and browns, but all it did was make us shiver as we got out of the vehicles to survey the scene and stretch our legs. The meadow through which the driveway climbed was grown over with goldenrod and Autumn Olive bushes, the ditch along side the road was muddy with the spring run off and sprouted wild willow, golden orange spikes just budding out. It was hard to see the beauty of the day, compared to the sunshine, warmth, and flowers we had left in the South. Without very many options, the men decided to make a run for it with the truck, to see if they could make it through the mud and onto the first rise, with the goal of reaching our planned campsite and setting up the tipi before nightfall. Within minutes, the moving truck was sunk to its axles, and there was nothing to do but pray for angels to come and help us.

You can read more if you follow the link “Tipi Tales” in the sidebar under Labels or the link at the beginning of this post.

2 responses to “Out of the Archives: Tipi Tales”

  1. rahraht Avatar

    Yeah for Tipi Tales…please tell me you at least dream of putting them all in a book someday. Or, maybe someone else in family will. I would buy several copies!!

  2. Jessica Avatar

    Wow, that is so cool. I remember being very young when one day my mom told me, “Olivia from home church and her family have moved far away and are living like they do on Little House on the Prairie, but in a a Tipi.” I was very shocked and slightly jealous. 🙂

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