News: Living in Connection to the Land – About our Teepee
In the spring I was walking around Chestnut Farm early in the morning. In one of my favorite places to walk, there is an opening near the barn that looks over the orchard and the bluebird house. While there, I noticed something new in the distance on this particular day. As I squinted my eyes, the outline of a tipi emerged and my inner child started to giggle with joy. Automatically, I started walking towards the tipi. When I arrived, I was excited, thinking about how we would use the tipi here at Fox Haven. The teepee also had a relaxing effect on me, as I imagined children going in and out, creating stories and having meetings. There were endless possibilities for this new structure.
We are lucky to have teachers like Chris Ousse here at Fox Haven, who as I found out, supplied the teepee. It has now become a fixture here on the land and we are so very grateful!
If you do not know Chris, he is one of our Fox Haven teachers. His joyful presence is something everyone needs to encounter. One place where you can find Chris is leading Fox Walkers, a nature-based outdoor program for youth ages 4 – 11 years old, held throughout the year. In addition to co-leading Fox Walkers with Elizabeth Remmers, he also teaches the Foraging with Youth Program once a month on Saturdays, March through October. Both programs allow youth to experience a crossroads where leadership and creativity meet in the playground of the natural world through wild crafting, exploration on the land, foraging, music, and the arts.
Chris Ousse – Teacher at Fox Haven
I had a moment to ask Chris some questions recently about the teepee, and why he is committed to work with us at Fox Haven.
JH: I am interested to know the process of how the tipi came to life. What were some of the challenges? What did you see as the end result for yourself, and others who would share this structure ?
CO: The teepee poles were hand-sawed from a young patch of Tulip Poplars. These came from a property in Sabillasville, Maryland on which I lived in 2013. One day at a time, I thinned out 17 Tulip Poplar saplings, one by one. I carried them out of the forest on my shoulder back to the house to dry under the deck for the winter. Over the spring and summer I peeled back the bark on each one of the 17 twenty-foot logs with an old two-handled draw shave tool in my free time. Once peeled, they finished curing in a hot barn loft for a few weeks. For next step I filed all the rough edges down over each pole until smooth, then covered them in a few coats of linseed oil. I was the proud owner of foraged teepee poles. It took me 3 years to save up the spare money to buy the canvas that is the teepee. Then I had a “Put Up the Tipi” party. It has had three homes before arriving at Fox Haven.
I am on a mission to put back what I take from the land and leave Earth cleaner and more biodiverse than when I got here. When I am in nature I have a personal commitment to leave it healthier then I found it. Dissatisfied with not having pollution-free living options, the teepee was my first attempt at exploring building my own housing. I quickly realized that tipi living was about living on and with the land, and needed a team of teepee owners, and clean miles of forest to coexist with that of which I do not know. The teepee is an artistic and resourceful technology, exhibiting precise engineering principals and design.
JH: What brought you to Fox Haven?
CO: Many forces brought me to Fox Haven, as often happens when you are like-minded and have many similar friends. My first invite to Fox Haven was in 2016 for a drum meditation. I was invited as co-teacher, to share what I know about drumming. I immediately found knowledgeable and friendly people, and programs that trade garden time for herb crafting skills. At the time, I had been hunting down anyone with credible plant identification skills for four years, and have continued to grow from the well of learning at Fox Haven.
I hope that future events can be planned around the tipi, like drum-filled shadow puppet story-telling and wild-crafting.
JH: How does the land here feel to you?
CO: I feel welcome and stimulated as a forager and as a plant identifier on the land.
Explore Fox Walkers and the Youth Foraging Programs here at Fox Haven through our website. Also look for new announcements that involve Chris Ousse, with much more to come!