Once upon a time, I built a teepee. I painted the door and filled it with things I loved. I made the poles, sanded each by hand, peeling the bark from the 16-foot saplings we had cut in our own woods.


Then I wrote a book about building it, and about life, transformation, and other things, some funny, some sad, some just whatever. The manuscript for The 12-Foot Teepee took me about 7 months to write, about as much time to edit, then a few more months to design the cover and book. Getting it published, well … that’s another story.

This was my teepee.

It stood, through all seasons, for five years. Through snow and ice, drenching rain, hurricanes and hale, it stayed solidly anchored. This past summer, we realized the poles had rotted through. They could no longer support the canvas. And the canvas itself was mildewed and tears had appeared in various places. Its time was done. We took it down.

You can find the book on Amazon, both as a paperback and in Kindle format. It is The 12-Foot Teepee,  by Marilyn Armstrong.  My life has moved on considerably since then but writing it was a turning point in my life.

And for the years the teepee was mine, it was the one place in the world in which I always felt safe and at peace. I will always miss it. It was also the only space I’ve ever known which was entirely, completely, absolutely mine.

Oasis — A sanctuary is a place you can escape to, to catch your breath and remember who you are. Write about the place you go to when everything is a bit too much.

18 thoughts on “THE TEEPEE – I REMEMBER

  1. Hey there, Marilyn. I can’t help but notice your tipi tales. I used to live in a tipi as well! I lived in a 16′ tipi from Nomadics here in SW VA. I cut/stripped/dried the poles here in VA. I used to blog for Mother Earth News about it, as it truly was an experience. Anyway, just thought I’d pop by and say hello. 🙂


    • I loved being in the teepee. I swear if it had plumbing and electricity, I’d never have gone back to the house. Nomadics are good people. They helped me pick the right teepee or at least the best one I could, given the climate and amount of ground I had. They provided great support — and excellent instructions on how to raise it. I’m always happy to recommend them. There are some other companies out there who shouldn’t be allowed to sell anything, much less teepees.

      The problem with our parts of the world is humidity. No matter what material you get or how much they treat it for mold, it still eventually rots. Probably it would wear out anyway. It’s wood sticks and canvas. Not durable long-term. I wouldn’t trade my teepee years for anything. I still miss it.

      Thanks for coming by. Do I know you by any chance?


      • Maybe you do? My name is Natalie and my former blog is I think at the time I was probably the only girl who was living in a tipi and blogging about it, ha. And yes, mine eventually started to go downhill with rotting poles and mildew-y canvas (no matter how much I tried), so I laid it to rest and lived in a school bus for a while! I wouldn’t trade my tipi experience, but I also wouldn’t go back. My location was very remote (which was beautiful, but isolating) and the winter huddled, freezing and alone, around a woodstove was a harrowing experience for me. Later if I have children, I’d like to get another. I’ll let *them* be part of the pole-making process. 😉


        • You just sound so familiar. I wouldn’t — won’t — go back either. I’m too arthritic to so the bending and twisting to get in and out, up and down. But I also thought making the poles — and for me, painting all that stuff — made that tepee mine in a way nothing else will ever be. I’m glad I did it.

          No matter what we do, they do not last forever.

          I didn’t have a stove, but I had a really efficient firepit and I learned to light a fire in like two minutes. It was so cold, it was learn or freeze!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry to read about the end of the teepee. I only just read about the odyssey of getting it up, and now it is gone. Wonderful to have had such a place, for whatever length of time.


  3. I remember this blog. Shame that the wind and weather destroyed it. If I did it in Switzerland, I would have to get planning permission and I am sure there would be a few neighbours who would object.


    • Actually, there are quite a few tepees in Switzerland. They send pictures. Some of them are quite beautiful. I don’t know about planning permission … maybe these are out in the country or where people have large private estates. Mostly, people don’t object to tepees. Something friendly about them.


      • I think there are a few organisations in Switzerland that have get togethers in this connection, but our little conservative village is not such a place. I have to be careful that my apple tree does not lean too far over the boundaries of my garden.


        • Sounds like the joys of condo living to me. We were always fighting with our condo association when we lived in Boston. We won, but I hated that they had any say in how we ran our lives. Out here in the country, no one cares and that works for me!


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