Bad Advice Wednesday: A Yurt of One’s Own

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I am thrilled to announce the publication of The Map of Enough: One Woman’s Search (Counterpoint Press, March 2014) by Molly Caro May.I was lucky enough to read an early copy and this was my response: “To read The Map of Enough is to go on a joyful adventure of retreat. It doesn’t hurt that our guide on that adventure is the exuberant, complex, thoughtful, funny and boisterous Molly Caro May, a placeless woman trying to find her place. It turns out that that place is a yurt in Montana, which, by story’s end, seems as archetypal as Thoreau’s cabin. In sentences that are beautiful and lyric, but also as resilient and tough as the woman writing them, May makes us think about our own lives and how we choose to pass our days on earth. By book’s end most readers will wish their own lives were simpler and more elemental, and, with the author’s encouragement, may just set out to make them that way.”


Since you can’t live in Molly’s Yurt, today’s bad advice is “find a yurt of your own.” (It may be a metaphoric yurt.) Here’s an excerpt from the book. (Background info: Chris is Molly’s husband, Diane her neighbor, Bru  her Great Dane mix dog.)


Winter was on its way. In mid-October, the grass outside our yurt sparkled blue with frost, but no snow like the first snow last year that slowed our yurt process. I grabbed Chris’s hand and we stepped further into a blue-gray world.


Lie down with me, I said when we reached the sponge grass.


I did not want to charge the moment by turning to love on him, or have him love on me, no. He hadn’t rested here for longer than a minute and I thought he should know about it.


This is more comfortable than our futon, he said, arms flung out widely.

We are growing up, I said.



Below, somewhere, Diane had found a ten-thousand-year-old flesher on the creek bank. Above, here, a few generations back, a woman descended from one of the early families of this area, and this land, had asked for her ashes to be spread and they had been. Maybe homeplace is wherever you end up when you are adult enough to not overcontemplate, when you’ve been there long enough that memory embeds and you let go of the other lives you had once imagined.

When do you think we’ll ask ourselves what’s next? I asked.

You never stopped asking yourself, Molly, he laughed, propping himself up on an elbow, That question will always be part of you. It’s not a bad thing. It’s constitutional for you.

I didn’t sit up.

For once, I was the quiet one.

Body deep in grass, I could not see mountains or roads when my head turned. Chris squeezed my leg and wandered off to share twilight with the four mules at the fence. I could hear him mumbling to them far away. He had told me that part of the phrase Getting there was that you never actually got to the there. There was no rush. You ambled and watched the scenery move past you.

And this, on a cold night, is where a person slips, slips in the horizontal sense, so that all the beings within her, within everyone, make themselves known. I became a deer bedded down, a canoe floating down a calm river. I am my great-grandfather pushing his spectacles back. I am a daughter living in a dusty mining camp. I am a man who kisses a woman. I am a woman who kisses a woman. I am a woman who falls off a ship and becomes castaway on an island. I am a boy full of sorrow in a ditch full of trash. I am the dead owl Chris will find on a dirt road and move under a tree in ceremony. I am the canoe again, moving fast, but the river never changes, and maybe neither do I. I am all of these things and they are me, and we, well, we are here. The only reason I can know this is because, for one second, I am also contained, because, for one second, I am me.

The fast thuds of a run, ground vibrations and then hot breath over my face. Bru was strafing me. He jumped from side to side, leaned over and let his black jowls hang low and close. Get up. Come with us. South of us, the headlights of two cars snaked down a mountain and we wondered why, where, who. Our yurt breathed like a living thing in the distance. We walked back towards the orange glint.

These had become normal days.


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