Survival Training

So, kind of out of left field The Man says, “Its a nice day. Get dressed we’re gonna do something.”

I asked, “Does this SOMETHING involve the Outdoors?”

“Yes.”

“I’d be fine with the Outdoors if only they weren’t outside….”

He led me and The Girl to the still smouldering burn pile that our landlord erects in our back yard every year. [This year’s pile is mostly brush from a small wooded area that was in our back yard that he decided to get rid of. Now our back yard looks like the setting for just about any UNICEF commercial.] We are informed we’re going to learn to build a teepee fire thingy…(okay, I forgot what he called it…which is why you should just come over so you can see this first-hand) and get a fire to burn using an ember.

It sounds easy, doesn’t it? We wandered around the yard picking up sticks and things which were abundant from the raping of the land that the landlord did…and made a small bed of teeny sticks. Then we wandered around gathering larger sticks to construct the teepee…which is sort of a combination wind screen so your fire can get going and tinder because the fire will claim it too. Again…you’re building a teepee so leaning sticks together in a pyramid shape sounds kind of easy, right?

Think house of cards.

ANYWAY…

even with a forked stick to begin with I learned that sticks apparently do not like being used in an unnatural way. If you grab some and throw them into a fire they’ll lay there, because hey, it’s part of the circle of life. But ask them nicely to stand up and keep my little fire going? NO.

So I gave up and The Man let me use his because he’s been doing this longer and can speak Stick. [Baaaa ram you!] He found a few handfuls of dry grass and made a bird nest looking thing. He told me to cup it (like baby birds were in it) and use my thumbs to push an indent into the top (for the ember to lay in).

Then he tossed a burning ember at me.

I’m kidding. He laid it in the nest thingy. Then showed me how to blow it — gently! — and was nice enough to take a picture.

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or mean…cause who wants a picture with THAT face?

From there it was just a matter of blowing and swearing until the grass began to catch and started smoking.

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SMOKE!

And your next trick to learn is how to keep blowing when you’re engulfed in smoke. :/ But, I managed and the grass caught fire. I don’t mean there was a tiny flame and I could sit back and watch my little fire grow into a campfire. I mean it BURST INTO FLAME. Literally…first there was a lot of smoke and then WHOOMP! FIRE!

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I moved too fast for The Man to keep up…cause it was BURNING!

I awarded myself points for not screaming or panicking. I managed to slowly (not-so-slowly) move my handheld ball of death into my teepee and set it on the bed of sticks. Then The Man showed me how to blow from the side (rather than sticking my head into the fire  and risking my beautiful hair (see above picture)….and soon it was roaring into life.

This fire went better than the one where we started with nothing and tried to use flint. (You can’t aim flint and can’t promise anything will catch long enough to blow if it lands where you want it to…just like you can’t promise that if it lands where you don’t want it to it WON’T catch and burn. Fortunately we live near the fire station.) I was just bummed because we hadn’t brought any materials to make S’Mores!

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The Girl and me and our little homeblown fire.

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