For many of us, 2020 was the year we stayed very close to home. For Mary Beth, that has been her life for the past few years. Chronic health issues have meant that she stays home most of the time, unable to venture very far away. She lives with her guy, Fran, on a half-acre place in Iowa. They have a wonderful backyard, vegetable gardens and a huge sunroom. Who would have guessed all they were missing was a tipi?

Mary Beth received her painted tipi early in the spring of 2020. Colorado Yurt Company purchased a group of used tipis from a music festival that no longer planned to use them. We inspected them, made a few repairs and have been using them for projects around our town. Mary Beth got one of the most-unique lodges as a gift from her son (who also happens to own Colorado Yurt Company).

Fran and his brother set it up, adding colorful streamers to the poles. They added a liner and ozan to be able to use the space even in the hot midwestern summer.

Neighbors, delivery drivers and people on the street have all been very curious about this lovely piece of art in the backyard. The next-door neighbors rounded up the kids and asked to see the tipi. They were in such wonder. Mary Beth says, “Just seeing the joy was priceless.” Other neighbors have followed suit- coming by to check it out.  “The adults don’t think they can ask to see it unless they bring children with them, but young and old have all been delighted when they visited.”

A few years ago, Mary Beth and her sisters started a tradition where they get together for a weekend every year. Since she cannot travel, they go to a cabin at the nearby KOA. All of them look forward to the weekend, when they can relax, laugh, share memories and just be together. This summer, their weekend was not going to happen because of COVID. Her two sisters asked if they could just use the tipi. Mary Beth and Fran set up the interior in a way where all three of them could sleep in it. Then, they realized the guest list was expanding. Their guys all joined them during the afternoon, and their 95-year-old mom joined them in the tipi, too. Their aunt, uncle and cousin stopped by “just to look”, and ended up staying four hours. It became an impromptu, open-air family reunion. They all said it reminded them of summers in their youth when they’d visit on the farm, laughing, singing and dancing as a family. Mary Beth says, “When you are in the tipi, you don’t even feel our house is there. You just feel you are on vacation.”

The interior of Mary Beth’s tipi is a comfortable, well-appointed, welcoming space with furniture, artwork, rugs and even a coffee maker. The conversations and visits have been plenty. It’s a space where people open up and share themselves. They relax. “I love what this tipi has given me. It’s been so special to share it with family friends and neighbors.”