last of the unicorns

Dec 31 2013
Published by under Art, Poetry and Musings

Sad news about the loss of Bill Coperthwaite.  Here is a beautiful write-up from the Beehive yurt01Collective.

“I want to live in a society where people are intoxicated with the joy of making things.”

…Oh, this body-snatchin blustery storm, with tricklin’ raindrops that meander and converge with tears, gaining speed. So grateful i ain’t havin’ to be a grown-up today, so i can unzip my chest and howl along with it, in pain and respect, properly. This grey-ghost storm rollin’ by, thick with goosebump makin’ plasma, is the tail-end of the icy giant eraser that just grabbed the soul of one of the most special and creative people you could ever hope to spend moments with. Like a sudden grey-drab, spirit deadening cover-up of colorful, much beloved graffiti. Layered, joyous, wildness, disappeared. Pure Integrity sandblasted from view.
Our community, the world, just lost a wizard, not the kind in books or cartoons, y’all. A REAL one. The kind that don’t get made by this culture anymore. Bill Copperthwaite, master of yurt design, riddled with his so-called “disease” of seeing the world through the eyes of a sacred geometry equation… pure to the core in living uphill, really off the grid, but still travellin’ constantly to teach these precious values (more than his loner nerves could handle,) is now permanently unavailable for dispensing ego-slappin character-molding fables and laughter while teaching you to cut-the-shit. Literally and figuratively. No more carving “democratic” tools while re-evaluating what really matters, all the while being distracted by his twinkle-eyed genius.

Our precious, simple-is-beautiful, King of the introverts, Beauty-enforcing Luddite Master, is suddenly gone. With the same disturbing irony of Helen Nearing, “The Good Life” Grandma of the 70′s homesteader scene, living a long life of sharing simple living ideals, re-orienting many thousands of humans towards better values, to then be taken out, alone, by a car accident on slippery ice in the end.

The electric-grid is flickerin here as i write, as a reminder of what’s real and to be considered. I am shaking off the creepy crawly mournful feeling that i am one of the last conscious people on the aircraft that is about to crash, just sitting there in silence, trying to remain centered as i observe all that is real, endangered, authentic and rich in values continue to fray out or be mined from the social fabric. This fella that i’m weepin over, was a weaver, a darner, a patcher, a maker extrordinaire. Beyond compare. A Leaver that could fight off 100 Taker-ninjas at once. An Obi-wan that battled the Dark Forces of consumer culture with handmade wooden spoons.

You think i’m exaggerating, being romantic. But so sadly, i am NOT. It’s the best i can do in describing the loss of a magical light that beaconed from our shore down in Machiasport. A beaming lighthouse of a loner human that entertained and soul-massaged so many thousands of curious, worshipping bugs like me. Hidden away two miles in, on purpose. No phone. To MAKE you walk for it. Keep it elusive, special. Just like the design philosophies that warn against the desensitization from picture windows on beautiful views, or why you should keep your precious nick-nacks in a drawer, swaddled in nostalgic fabric, only to be dramatically unveiled for company alongside a story… so that nothing precious, wonder-inducing, or cathartic should ever be taken for granted.

His multi-layered spaceship yurt was full to the brim with such objects, nearly every one of them handmade or an adoring gift. Anything you could point at would elicit a profound bit of words of wisdom or striking information that needed chewing. Me, as a pore-covered Glass Frog ready to drink up every drop of story from any situation, would instantly be in shock walking into his chambers, full to silent awe drinking in every angle of his elaborate slow-cooked soup stock of rich, simple broth. His delicate, yet powerful, and wholly intentional, existence.

Guys, seriously, last i saw him he was soothing his fidgety by carving a piece of walrus bone “that he picked up while in Alaska” into a spoon. Not just any kind of spoon, specifically, he was making a spoon “strong enough to be his ice cream spoon for his car.” Master of simple living here knows EXACTLY how to party. No self-inflicted puritanical rules required.

A couple weeks ago i had the sublime treat of spending the night in his spaceship, with him, our mutual and shiny demon-slayer friend Abby Rockefeller (yah, the one) and another inspiring strong-willed woman elder from simple-living counterculture. I listened intensely as they told stories about so many influential people and moments that are now most-often reenactments, and struggled for words to ask questions i knew i would never forget the answers to. Things usually locked up in books were out loud in front of me,and it was such an incredible honor to get to interact with them in real time. I was desperate to memorize every word, knowing that i often am called on to relay do’er-values to people younger than me as part of my activist work.

After a charming candle-lit bedtime story from Bill that ended with “…here’s this bell, if you need anything at all, just give it a ring and i will get up, and come down, and show you how to live without it…” I spent the night wrapped in cozy handmade things in the most brain-and heart-exploding library you could ever write poetry about. My spot for the night was on top of muted-multicolor cushions made from used wool socks, each rolled up like cinnamon bun and lashed to its neighbor to make a huge springy tray of glorious cleverness. I couldn’t sleep but for an hour, cause the energy was so intense, i greedily wanted every last moment to lay there with my heart open recharging my own deeply depleted introvert batteries. The long moonlit night of processing thoughts had me digging with glee, scraping around in my head, taking the opportunity to feel so safe and inspired that i could ask myself the darkest of questions.

In the morning we all went for a canoe amidst the land and glassy water that he is guardian of, and he and i stole moments alone over cantaloupe and the woodstove to vow that we will stop being strangers and enjoy the fleeting time we have to become fast friends before his prostate cancer steals him away. I bawled my brains out while singin’, on the two miles walk back out to the big world.

Like the best Willy Wonka, he chose his own Charlies by planning ahead to turn his land into a trust that will be stewarded, dug his own grave with friends, and left instructions to take his body there by birchbark canoe. All the super thoughtful intentions are in place and his adoring peeps are following the wishes. There’s thoughts for the memorial to possibly be at our Machias Valley Grange, to come alive with storytelling and a celebration of our luck in knowing this remarkable human… Hopefully that can happen, cause there is lots to be carved into collective memory. We will all be super missing the irreplaceable.

I know that his sudden departure will be sparing him of great un-self-sufficient suffering, and i am grateful to the howling storm for taking him swiftly. But y’all, seriously, one of the Last Unicorns just got taken out back. It’s gutting.

I’m quite sure that no one that ever encountered this magical being ever took him for granted to always be there, ‘cept for maybe me. For sure, i’ll be hiding my shiny sliver of yurt-master chocolate in a drawer, to pull out and savor with great humbled intention.

with great love and appreciation,
for the beehive collective
machias, maine

to read more about this magician:



Jun 2024