Family tradition has it that I was conceived in a Tipi, made by my parents, under
the “old yew tree” near Polesden Lacey in Surrey. I certainly spent time as a baby
and as a small boy in various hiking tents like the ones used by the Kindred in the
20’s and 30’s. A significant memory for me is being woken up one misty morning
to see a little tipi in the garden. It had smoke coming out of the top and looked
quite magical. My father had made it out of paper and used the dried stalks of the
Golden Rod plants for the lodge poles. Being an Indian was part of my dreaming
and imagination as a child and the books of Ernest Thompson Seton, such as
“The Book of Woodcraft Indian Lore” were much loved treasures.
A lot of my time as a pre-teenage boy was spent on Wimbledon Common and
“den” building was a significant part of our play. The dens ranged from simple
nest like hiding places under the ferns and bracken to quite sophisticated, more
permanent structures. Straw bales, when available on the local farm, made
excellent building blocks. Flexible hazelwood frameworks covered with
“liberated” pieces of canvas or tarpaulin made the most satisfactory semi-durable
accommodation. Sometimes we thatched with rushes, flag leaves, bracken fronds
and leaves of all sorts. Most of these dens incorporated a fire of some sort. Small
and neat, smoke free if possible and all lit with “only one match” as a matter of
pride and as instructed by “Lonecraft” the book by John Hargrave or “White Fox”
as he was known.
© Jon Appleton 2010
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Even little birds do it.
American Indian Tipee
This picture was taken in 1942 when my
brother, sister and I won a fancy dress
competition as a native American family.
The bug has bitten!