I’ve just returned from a heavenly holiday with a dear, dear friend. We headed over to Vancouver Island and spent the first night of our trip in a sphere, hanging in the trees in a country property a little north of Parksville, on the East Coast of the island. I had read about these two suspended, wooden spheres but I never dreamed that I would actually be able to stay in one of them. It was my friend who checked it out and I am so glad that she did.
We arrived in the late afternoon sun after having taken the ferry from Horseshoe Bay, the ferry terminal in West Vancouver, and driving North about 45 minutes from Nanaimo to Qualicum Bay. We received a friendly welcome from the visiting mother of the creator and builder of the spheres. We blithely signed the requisite waivers of responsibility before we met Tom, who walked us over to the sphere, answering our questions about how he builds them as we went – around the little pond and past the shower/kitchen/BBQ facilities and into the woods.
Eve and Eryn
There are two spheres that he and his wife Rosie rent out: Eve, the original, smaller sphere, and Eryn, the second and larger of the two where we would be staying. We followed Tom up the spiral stair that was wrapped around one of the three trees supporting the sphere, and across the short suspended platform outside the door. The door itself looked a bit like an aircraft door except that the outside of Eryn is made of Sitka Spruce strips, bent to follow the shape of the sphere.
This YouTube video give you an idea of what Eryn looks like from outside to inside. You can see how high we were off the ground! Once inside, I had expected that there might be more than the minimal sway that there was. The inside is decked out very much like the inside of a sailboat. The millwork was exquisite, right down to the hand-cast bronze hinges for the custom-made convex windows. I loved the finishing touches like the Runic symbols on each of the hinges!
We hadn’t been in the sphere long before Rosie showed up with a delightful basket of treats, most of which we stored in the tiny fridge and ate for breakfast the next morning. She stayed and chatted, filling us in on how the sphere came to be and her experience of living in the smaller one, Eve, for months at a time while she was recovering from cancer. Living in a sphere seems a perfectly logical thing to do when you’re unwell as the womb-like space seems to wrap around you and create a safe and restful environment, not to mention the trees keeping vigil outside the windows. I woke in the night and, looking out the window at the trees in the moonlight, felt an incredible sense of peace and goodwill.
Next: Customizing & moving to fiber-glass
On their web site (see above: ‘sphere’), Tom describes where his inspiration came from and how long he has been creating the spheres. I’ll let you read it directly and not repeat it here. As you drive into the property, you see a fiberglass sphere sitting in the grass. It has not yet been filled so we took the opportunity to sit inside it. When we breathed, we could hear ourselves, the way you do in the whispering gallery of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. It was like having an incredibly acute microphone and speakers in our own bodies. You can set up a wonderful vibration by toning! I can’t help but think this must have a positive effect on the body.
Before we left, we had a lovely long chat with Tom in his barn-like and chilly workshop. We had a chance to stand in the special-order sphere that he is just finishing off for a client in the UK who requested a ‘media centre’. The shell is fiberglass and all in one piece, while the millwork inside is done in black walnut. The client requested, and Tom designed and installed, a pop-up massage table under the floor and a custom-made Murphy-bed/conference table opposite the door. There are two work stations and facilities for light refreshments in a kitchenette area. Journalists will be able to take a nap, revive themselves with a massage, preview and edit their broadcasts and have a cuppa, all while being suspended above the action of what they are reporting on. Wow!
I can’t wait to see what comes next. I have the profound sense that he is a little before his time and that these pod-like spheres will have applications that we have not yet even drempt of. My friend had some vivid dreams and I awoke feeling refreshed and buffered from the world. According to the guest book, many babies have been conceived in the sphere and I wager a guess that many wonderful ideas have been conceived of in Eryn as well.
Soon, the spheres will be moved to a new home. The property they are on isn’t large enough to fit any more spheres and Tom and Rosie don’t own it. I wish them well in the search for the perfect new situation. I would have dearly loved to have stayed longer and would love to visit again, wherever it is they end up.
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