This weekend, Wendy and I had a bunch of stuff to do around the house. Of course, as you know, I've been busy and lamenting the slow down of travel on my MooseBoots path. The biggest thing on the list was to burn all of the scrap wood in the backyard (insurance guys don't like that kind of stuff). I thought about trying to light the fire with a bow drill, but we were on a tight schedule because the girls needed to be picked up within 2.5 hours. In spite of the "need to get it done quickly", I chose to add in a bit of practice.
I have, much to Wendy's dismay, a lot of "bits of nature" laying around the house ... milkweed stalks, birch blanks for spoons and bowls, Jerusalem artichoke stalks, grass ropes, etc. Among my "treasures" is a bunch of birch polypore that I had picked to make medicinal tea. I have tried it, but still have a bunch laying around. I broke a piece off of a large chunk and lit it with a match. Of course, polypore does not really burn with a flame ... it smolders. I ran around the house excitedly (it is almost Christmas, so I can) showing Wendy the smoldering fungus. She, not so enthusiastically, pointed out that it stinks. I guess that is a matter of opinion.
I took the ember outside to light the fire. It was glowing very slightly but a few breathes showed that it was very much alive. Skill 1 - carry fire from one place to another - CHECK. It would have easily burned for 30 minutes, but a larger portion would keep going for hours. This is an important piece of wisdom, if one would be moving from site to site, rather than trying to light a fire from scratch. It would be even more important in a situation where it had been raining and things were damp (like your bow drill hearth and spindle).
I looked around the back yard searching for something with which to make a tinder bundle. I spied a few corn stalks that had no been pulled from the garden bed. I stripped some leaves off of one an fashioned a tinder bundle. I have never before used corn leaves for a tinder bundle, but figured it was worth a try. They were a bit damp from the frost melting off of them, too. I blew my breathe into the bundle ... slowly the smoke started to billow from the tiny package. I had seen someone on YouTube, video linked below, whirl the bundle around in his outstretched arm rather than blowing it. So, I tried it ... it worked amazingly well. The bundle got very hot in my hand. Then, I few quick breathes and ... voila ... flames. Skill 2 - make a tinder bundle and create a fire from a coal - CHECK.
Of course, in my haste, I fell prey to one of the classic survival mishaps ... do not expend all of the effort to make a fire until you have all of the materials on hand. If you do, you make create a coal, or fire, only to watch it go out because you were not quick enough gathering the rest of the material for the fire. In survival situations, it is important to be as efficient as you can in everything. So, I spent a few minuted running around picking up dead sticks, more corn stalks, and other material for the fire. Luckily for me, the polypore was still smoldering. I retrieved it, wrapped it in more corn leaves, and began the process anew. The flaming tinder bundle was then placed in the somewhat damp tee pee. Slowly, the little flame grew from a single match sized flame to engulf the whole tee pee. Skill 3 - built a fire and light it with the flaming tinder bundle - CHECK.
Sadly, that seemed like the end of my play. I spent the next 2 hours piling on scrap wood, raking, and generally cleaning up the yard. I must admit that it was nice just to be outside for those few hours, even only ion the back yard. I doused the flames, came into the house, and changed my clothes just in time to run out to get the girls. I commented several times, with a stupid grin (no doubt), that I smelled like smoke. I love the smell of wood smoke ... for me it is soothing and calming.
Later, I did the unthinkable ...gasp... I continued working on a project that had been on hold ... I poured off the Japanese knotweed tincture into dropper bottles. I have been asked about Lyme disease several times over the past month. Interestingly, I made think tincture, ahead of all of that, because I felt like I needed to start applying these skills. I also wanted the experience of creating medicine ... tinctures ... before I needed to do so. Since then, I have taken a group, including my Shamanic Teachers, my mother, my family, and some of our nature group friends, out to harvest more. It turns out that there are several of cases of Lyme that have occurred. I also purchased "Healing Lyme" because it occurred to me that I was recommending it based on a recommendation from a trusted friend, but no first hand knowledge of its contents. I have not gotten very far into it ... I had to finish up a few other books that I have been reading.
It turns out, I guess, that even when things seem so frantic, there IS time to inject some of the desired growth and learning. I am eager to continue making medicines, helping people heal, and learn more survival skills. As a matter of fact, I recently purchased a copy of Brewing Sacred and Healing Beers. It looks like an interesting study of indigenous recipes for healing tonics. A quick skim showed that I had already made one of the recipes by instinct. Of course, I will also be making non-alcoholic medicines, using home made apple cider vinegar, for those who can not, for one reason or another, use those that are alcohol based.
I am blessed to be on this path, following the MooseBoots trail. I continue to be amazed at the little synchronicities that occur, things I learn that become relevant, things that I make that are needed shortly after, opportunities to continue to grow and learn, opportunities to make a real difference in a genuine way. As always, I am grateful for this journey and the abundance that Nature offers. I simply hope to use these gifts wisely, to make a positive difference in the world, to help people heal or continue their journey beyond this dream, and to help other learn about and respect this bountiful, generous Earth.