The first thing I smell is fresh cedar, like being inside a hot sauna but crisper, mixed with sea air. I see an axe swing high and land – THUD, crack!
“Hello girl! Come in! We will make tea!”
Walking past stacks of cedar and piles of greens for his goat, I go up a plank and into the two part door Kamil opens for me.
He lived on this property for a year before the landlord came to see him. Noticing that Kamil had cleaned all the trash, cut the grass, and cleared the shoreline, the landlord asked if he wanted to buy the property for $250,000. “Ha! The glaciers are melting, this whole place will be underwater in 10 years. He thinks I want to get a mortgage for that? No way. Capitalists. Ha!” So they agree he can stay for free until it sells. 3 years later, he has built this gorgeous greenhouse to live in, complete with woodfire stove, solar lights (he built himself, of course), tons of fresh greens and tomatoes, all the canned fish and seaweed he can collect, and his gentle goat, Haawa.
“In my [Tatar] language, Haawa means sky. Here in Haida, it means thank you. It’s amazing the similarities. In Peru, I lived with a Quechua woman, and we could understand each others languages completely.”
He shreds carrots on a grater he customised with wood to make it more efficient. “No reliable teeth anymore, so grating everything!” he laughs. I ask if I can help with anything. “No, not much to do, and it’s nice for an old Tatar man to cook for you. You are such a wonderful young person.” [Wonderful is Kamil’s most used word.]
Kamil’s Recipe for Strong Healthy People
Cover grated carrots and ginger with a bunch of olive oil, fry it with onions in a cast iron pan, then crack some fresh eggs on top and garnish with fresh chives (cut from your bedside planter), ground seaweed salt (dried on your front porch), and lime (from the organic store in town). Pairs well with wild chamomile, spruce tip and stinging nettle tea.
As we eat, he asks more about my family. He grew up in the Soviet Union, raising horses [and so much more, but I won’t hear more details until we spend a full day together later in the week].
“I would be in math class, and teacher is talking talking talking about fractions and circles and ugh, whatever.
So I whistle my horse, she comes right up the window. I leap out the window onto her back, no saddle or anything, don’t need it, and off we fly! Before teacher even notice. Out to the hills and free.”
[Hilariously, I need to take Kamil to get his phone fixed later this week so he can continue to study quantum physics online. There is a right time to learn everything (and often it is not childhood).]
Kamil left his village (after a dam was built which flooded his homeland) to study acupuncture and meditation at a Buddhist monastery. He later became an artist, with his own foundry and metal working shop, a gold title, multiple famous galleries across Canada and the US, and raised 4 daughters who are scattered now around the world with their own children.
“My daughters want that I live forever. But already I see so much of this side, and only glimpsed the other side, through meditation, psychedelics. Ayahuasca particularly, such a beautiful medicine, such a powerful teacher. I am ready to experience the other side, where it is endless and beautiful. Both sides are just wonderful, but I know this side now. As long as I can build my house, chop my wood, have my goat, I am happy. But after that…ah. The other side will call.”
(Read more about this visit with Kamil here)