When I signed up to stay in a yurt at Fishtrap, the wonderful writers’ gathering in Eastern Oregon where I spent July 9-15, I pictured a glorified tent. Canvas walls, two little beds, a rustic toilet, no privacy.
I was so wrong. When I slogged into the camp at Wallowa Lake that broiling hot Monday afternoon in my ailing Honda, I didn’t care where I stayed as long as I could stop driving. But after I checked in and got my little wooden name tag on a string, I was pleasantly surprised to find my yurt, named Coho, was a charming round cottage in a village of other round cottages circling a larger round building where we’d have our classes.
Up the steps and across the deck, I opened the unlocked door to a pretty kitchen complete with table and chairs, sink, microwave, coffeemaker and refrigerator. Looking up, I saw trees through the big round skylight. There were two bedrooms, one to the right and one to the left. I took the left one while another writer, Judith, would take the other. The bedrooms had double beds, and ladders leading up to lofts that remained unoccupied that week. Towels, sheets, thick blankets and handmade quilts waited for us. We had places to hang our clothes and plenty of electrical outlets. No TV or Wi-Fi, but who needed it?
If you picture the yurt as a pie, with kitchen and bedrooms being three slices, the bathroom and shower room made up the other slices. We had carpet and linoleum, everything clean, all smelling of fresh-cut wood. It just felt good in there.
As a bonus, deer wandered the grounds, completely unafraid of us. In fact, a doe and a buck bedded down right outside my window the last night.
I wanted to stay in that yurt forever.
What about the writing part? Oh, that was every bit as magical as advertised. In a world where most people don’t understand what writers do, Fishtrap provided an oasis where we didn’t need to do anything but write. We had meals and workshops and readings, all fabulous. I did a lot of singing and guitar-playing. But everywhere one looked, people were hunched over their notebooks or computers writing. We writers had finally found our tribe.
One day in our songwriting workshop, our leader, Hal Cannon(love him!) had us write parodies of “Home on the Range.” Of course, I wrote about my yurt. I’ll give you just a taste:
Home, home in my yurt,
in my black and red Hawaiian shirt,
where the deer eat the grass as we mosey to class
and leave us their gifts in the dirt.
Love that yurt.