It’s been just over three years now since our friend Bill Coperthwaite died in an automobile accident.
He was such an important, creative force in our lives and in this world,
he was Kenneth’s mentor during the short years we knew him and his ideas
and words continue to inspire us still.
We appreciate the memories of him that pop up unexpectedly, and we foster
any connection to friends or situations that remind us of him.
Like this one - the annual Dickinsons Reach Calendar.
Bill produced and sold a calendar each year, the proceeds of which made up
a majority of his annual income.
He lived on very little, about eight thousand dollars a year. He led yurt building workshops, sold plans for building his yurts and one time he raised money for a trip by selling spoons which he carved, and he wrote a book, “A Handmade Life”.
But overall, and fiercely, he chose to live on far less than the average American.
One of his sayings was,
“Tell me what you need and I will tell you how to get by without it.”
Bill had a very large group of people he corresponded with, all via letters.
He had no phone and no computer, he did not have an email address,
he loved writing and receiving real, paper mail.
He would send out a letter to his entire mailing list each fall with a request
for support and in exchange he’d offer his yearly calendar.
Bill’s first letter was sent in the fall of 1973 to friends and supporters,
it advertised two yurt plans and offered workshops, and it also included
a list of recommended books.
The first calendar was made a year later, illustrated with sketches of various yurts.
It was printed on heavy brown paper and packaged in a cardboard tube.
Sadly, I don't have one of those to show you.
In successive years the paper and format of the calendar changed a few times,
the most recent calendars were 11.5” tall by 6” wide, and some were printed in color.
Bill always included favorite poems, quotes or sometimes sayings of his own,
plus a number of book recommendations, his favorites from the past year.
He would choose a theme for the calendar’s drawings or photographs - for instance, 2003 was a series of photographs of his yurts, and 2009 was ‘Beauty in Lapland, a celebration of photographic art by Gosta Andersson’. Or 2011 was a celebration of modern yurts. One year he chose illustrations by his favorite artist, Barbara Cooney.
One of my favorite details of the calendar was that Bill listed several years for which they could be used (truly a thrifty guy).
So it turns out that I can use my 1995 calendar again this year.
That’s the history of the calendars, and now for the way forward.
Bill considered his group of closest friends to be his family, thus he entrusted his legacy and his land near Machiasport, Maine, to five dear friends.
They are continuing to keep many of Bill’s ways of life and his philosophy alive.
One of their tasks is to care for Bill’s remote homestead, called Dickinsons Reach
(after his favorite poet, Emily Dickinson).
They have just printed their second Dickinsons Reach calendar, proceeds from the sale of which will help to preserve and care for Bill Coperthwaite’s legacy.
This year's calendar is luminous with those golden, quiet moments which embody the time I have spent at Dickinsons Reach.
Margaret La Farge's paintings are gorgeous; they speak the truth of Bill's life
of beauty and simplicity. All of the images are scenes from Dickinsons Reach.
Consider joining the mailing list and supporting the Dickinsons Reach group's important, relevant and very interesting work.
Below is this year’s letter with some links to more information.
The Dickinsons Reach Calendar for the Years
2017 ~~~~~~~~ 2023 and 2034
A celebration of Dickinsons Reach through the art of
Greetings from Dickinsons Reach Community, the far flung community of
people that Bill Coperthwaite assembled during his life.
We now work together – to care for Dickinsons Reach and to support excitement in simple living, meaningful work, beautiful creating.
The 2017 Dickinsons Reach calendar will celebrate the art of Margaret LaFarge, who spent many hours with Bill in his home and has captured
the spirit of the place in her paintings.
The past year at Dickinsons Reach has been a busy one. Many friends and new acquaintances have walked or paddled in, and some stayed for a bit in the guest yurt. We continue to encourage visitors to be respectful and tidy, and to that end we are now implementing a reservation system for those who would like to stay overnight. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are planning
a visit and want to schedule a stay in the guest yurt.
We are also establishing a Homesteading Residency – 4-6 weeks at
Dickinsons Reach for self-directed learning, discovery, service and creativity.
We want to offer this amazing place as a setting for individuals, families and small groups to deeply explore nature, ideas and skills. We hope this opportunity will provide residents with encouragement on their life journey, time and solitude to explore ideas and skills, the joy and challenge of living with less, and the fulfillment of living in a healthy, wild place. We are pleased to announce that the first resident will be arriving at Dickinsons Reach in late November, 2016!
Please write for a full description of the residency, or visit our website: www.insearchofsimplicity.net
And, in place of Bill’s customary list of books,
we remind all that Bill’s library has been catalogued: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/Dickinsons_Reach
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops - at all.
― Emily Dickinson
$65 will bring you eight calendars
$55 will bring six; $15 brings one
Checks payable to Dickinsons Reach, LLC please.
Mail to: 7 Page St, Brunswick, ME 04011
Proceeds from the calendar will go to support the land and buildings at Dickinsons Reach, to preserve this place for future visitors and inspiration.
We encourage you to be in touch as you consider your own response to Dickinsons Reach, and the remarkable man who gave this gift to us all.
2/17/2017 06:48:54 am
Are his annual letters available?
THOMAS HENRY NICKERSON
6/25/2017 11:06:50 am
At 75 years old,I have somehow just discovered WC !
8/24/2017 07:46:33 am
Is this the "Thomas Henry Nickerson" with whom I sailed on his Shannon?
12/15/2017 05:02:02 am
what a beautiful human being. inspirational to be so filled with the spirit of simply living that it resonates outward to those lives you have touched and influences the young to carry the same torch for those who come after. i have searched for people who make instead of take and it is here i have arrived on an eastward shore. Thank you to all who have and are true human beings that help others with the remembrance of simple living.
1/27/2020 05:55:00 pm
1/28/2020 03:02:18 am
Hello Alan -
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Angela & Kenneth Kortemeier
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