I lived here summer and winter for two years, no small feat. The dimensions are 16’x16’.
The materials are old tents left by my many tenants from my home at 18 North Prospect St.
in Amherst, Ma.
Thank you everyone...Sewn on a treadle sewing machine. My son Bud built the wooden floor.
The design is a modified version of an Afghanistan nomads’ walled tent. The walls are overlapped to form doorways. I had a front and backdoor, wood heat, two burner gas stove, and plenty of layers of clothe around me. The big lean-to was to shelter me from snow.
I cut firewood with a bow saw uphill from my home, throwing long pieces downhill, practicing javelin throws. This turned out to be much fun with constant unexpected results. Two cord of firewood, that’s all it took for the coldest of the two winters.
The weaving of branches of trees between support poles (saplings), covered with layers of cloth, kept me warm and safer than I have ever felt before or since. Men were never able to figure out how to open my door.
Water came from the spring fed stream which ran just below me, with the sweetest path to it ever.
I am an artist.
Obviously, I have no money.
I had just put everything I own into buying this wonderful piece of land, in Ashfield, Massachusetts. An original land grant farm (mostly still intact) complete with streams, forest, fields, wild animals, a pond, wild animals, deep springs, wild animals...I call it the tall tree country. The forest had not been touched since before 1900.
Who wouldn’t sacrifice to live in such a place!
The many people, friends, who helped me make this transition from my fourteen room home in Amherst, surround me now with their love. My lawyer, Myer Orlov, who never took a penny, the family I bought it from who signed it over to me even though I still owed them $20,000, the young man, a recent graduate of MIT who gave me $8,000 toward the purchase and helped me move my stripped down belongings from Amherst to here, Lisa Winter, artist and friend, who helped me build my clothe house and more, my son Bud, who built the wooden floor, the man who's name I do not know, a local resident, who appeared with a chain saw and cut my first winters wood, the Buckland neighbor who gave me a quilt & blankets to keep me warm, and Scott White Eagle who helped me get a spot on the street in Harvard Square to sell my artwork, and finally, the many friends who visited me every night that first winter. The snow was deep and the temperature hit 20 below... so...
Small pictures using water colors, inks, colored pencils, painting what appeared on the paper before me. Do I believe in leprechauns now? I do. I’m past trying to explain the mysterious in my life. I love just living with it.
For real money I dyed ‘Wallace Berry’ shirts, hauling water uphill to dye them over an open fire and disposing of that water uphill to avoid polluting this beautiful spring fed stream, my drinking water.
The snow was so deep that winter , my firewood, a stack three feet high was buried under 2 feet of snow. I had to lie face down on the snow to dig it out. After some thought, I chose laughter. It was both ridiculous and necessary. I had no money.
I was living in a forest, one quarter of a mile from a dirt road and my Kelly green Datsun pick-up truck. The path I had built to my home followed the stream. It had one really scary part, a straight sheer drop of 30 ‘, with no trees to hold on to or to break your fall. I learned that I could follow that path even though blinded by fear. That I would feel comforted and safe.
...that brought my friends out to see me at nighttime in deep snow. They were brave. Most were city dwellers. Some had never driven a dirt road, let alone been in a forest. It was wonderful they came at all.
I don’t know whose feet those are.
I didn’t live here forever...
I designed another house, my fourth. Five sided. I was bored with rectangles and squares. I wanted to catch as much sunlight as possible.
I built this, using trees from this very spot.
No plywood, although I love plywood.
All green lumber, so it could all dry together.
I call this Victorian modern.
Most of the windows and all of the doors were recycled, with a lot of casement windows. I love opening casement windows.
The length of the five sides are: 1 is 28’, 2 are 18’, and 2 are 36’.
The upstairs (the attic) is my studio.
"Cerese" Pauline B. (Bott) Davis, 86, died Saturday, January 17th, 2015, at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.
Born April 1, 1928, in East St. Louis, IL., she was the daughter of Anthony E. and Evelyn C. Bott. She was raised in Belleville, Illinois, and moved to Amherst in 1969. While studying at the University of Massachusetts, she founded the Amherst Resource Center as part of her dissertation.
Pauline moved to Ashfield in 1981, living in a homemade tent. A very creative artist for over 30 years, she loved to paint and also create greeting cards for all occasions. Pauline penned her creations as "Cerese from the forest" for her paintings and "Cerese the Valentine maker" for her cards. She had a small store front in Shelburne Falls where she displayed her art work. She made many friends in her community and together they shared their personal creativity.
Survivors include her son E. Myles Davis of Wendell, five grandchildren, Jessie and Christopher of Wendell, Sasha and Esther of Nantucket, and Rachel of Winchendon, a great-niece Niylah, two sisters, and one brother.
Reprinted from The Hampshire Gazette.