by Madeleine Smith
Since I was a small child, I've had the dream of building my own house. Back then I envisioned something between a castle and a log-cabin with turrets and a cozy cottage-like den, hidden away in a dense Brothers' Grimm forest.
It's always been there, this idea of living in a space imagined by me and put together with my own hands. There's something so satisfying about this thought. Similar perhaps to the satisfaction of cooking from scratch and eating what you've made. Apparently humans derive more pleasure from eating when they perform a ritual beforehand, even as simple as snapping a chocolate bar in half before consuming. Perhaps the ritual process of dreaming, imagining, planning and creating a living space makes living there a greater pleasure.
This has only ever been a dream for me. A happy thought-process for rainy days. It never occurred to me that I could one day act on this dream. I am a girl from the suburbs of the GTA who likes to read Jane Austen and write (mostly terrible) poetry. Six months ago, I didn't know how to hammer nails properly. I didn't know I was allowed to actually build my own house.
And then I met Estelle Drisdelle and Daimen Hardie. It's been a reminder to me of the importance of finding, seeking out or making role models. As much of a cliché as that is, it is so much more difficult to move ideas into reality when you haven't seen anyone else do anything similar. Estelle and Daimen started with a dream of building a 100-mile straw-bale house, and ended up with a beautiful home and a multitude of practical skills and knowledge acquired along the way. It's this last fact that has encouraged me the most. I don't have to start out knowing exactly what I am doing, I just have to be open to working hard and learning throughout the process.
My dream is still a dream, but it is slowly turning into something else. I've learned a little more about timber framing, and heard a little more of Estelle and Daimen's story. Little by little I'm starting to see what is possible and working on making it real.