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The New Year has arrived in grand fashion. It is well noted as the time of year when we make resolutions to reach various goals. Many make commitments to exercise, lose weight or change unhealthy habits and lifestyles. Others strive to reach monetary goals and perhaps get out of debt, once and for all…if that’s even remotely possible of course. My resolution each year is always the same…to get out in the woods more often and explore…I simply couldn’t survive without it.
I have always been deeply moved by the writings of David Henry Thoreau and John Muir. One of my favorites by Thoreau is…“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
All of us enjoy the time we spend in Nature, but have you ever really considered why? I think it’s because…”we ARE Nature.” Too often, I believe, we look at Nature and the Environment as being somewhere “out there,” separate from ourselves. Nothing could be further from the truth. We’re all made from the same building blocks. Plants provide us with oxygen and in exchange, we emit carbon dioxide. It’s a perfect relationship. With that in mind, the fact that 61% of our genes can be found in the common fruit fly and 35% in a daffodil should come as no surprise. It’s all part of God’s plan. We are truly ALL connected…and that’s a beautiful thing!
We’ve all heard and read numerous well documented stories of people with various illnesses and disorders that have seemingly been miraculously… Read the rest of this entry »
The beginning of Winter is just a few days away and I’m excited about the outdoor opportunities it offers. The Moon is waning at the moment as we move toward the beginning of Winter this Sunday, the 21st. After a beautiful Fall I welcome the changing weather. With the leaves off the trees, it’s a great time to explore your favorite patch of woods. Animal sign is easy to interpret, as their trails and runs are very visible this time of year. It’s truly a great opportunity to learn about your woodland neighbors.
Much of the East coast experienced a poor crop of Acorns this year. I could hardly find any in my woods and I’m sure our local squirrel and deer population have been affected by the lack of food. I read recently that some scientists fear the shortage may affect squirrel and deer populations as a result. Indeed, I have noticed that the population of squirrels on my property seems to be less now than last year, and I’ve seen a few that were uncommonly small. Since acorn production runs in cycles though, it’s not that uncommon to have lean year after a year of abundance. Perhaps next year will balance things out. We did however experience a good year for Black Walnut and Hickory nuts. Both are absolutely delicious, though it is a bit tedious to extract the nutmeats. I find it well worth my effort .
Numerous species of migrating birds have been… Read the rest of this entry »
Not very long ago there were people living close to the Earth, honoring, celebrating and respecting life through prayer and beautiful ceremonies. These people understood nature’s many gifts. All their food, clothing, medicine, tools and materials for their homes came from their immediate surroundings. Understanding the natural world was critical for their health and survival. The Earth was Sacred to them. Who were these people? Our ancestors…that’s right, All our ancestors knew how to live off the land…or perhaps, to live With the land would be more accurate. They had strong physical, spiritual and emotional ties to Nature. There was no air pollution, no water pollution, no litter, and there were no garbage dumps. They lived in balance with the land.
By contrast, in our high-tech fast-paced world today, it’s easy to see how we are gradually distancing ourselves from the natural world. Nature, for the most part, is viewed merely a commodity to be used and used up anyway we see fit. And, most of our experiences with Nature today come in the form of outdoor recreation. Many of us spend that time racing around the woods and waters on various machines “doing Mach 3 with our hair on fire!” Sadly, going on a Nature walk or fishing on a quiet riverbank somewhere is considered boring to most people. Whatever form of outdoor activities you prefer, one thing’s for certain… Read the rest of this entry »
In a previous article, I suggested that slowing down while hiking or exploring would allow you to see more wildlife and enhance your experience on your outdoor adventures. I received a few emails from some folks who loved the idea, but have a hard time getting around. Hiking just isn’t an option for them.
Here’s a great idea, not just for folks that aren’t as mobile but literally for all of us. I call it a “sit spot”, (or “secret place” when I teach it to children). The good news is you usually don’t have to travel far. Here’s the concept. Find a slightly out of the way place on your property, or perhaps at a nearby park and simply sit down, relax and just observe. You can even bring a chair if you’d like, though I prefer to sit on the ground. I know, I know…this sounds a lot like a previous article, but a “sit spot” is different. Indulge me for a moment. This is one of the Healthiest and FUN things you can do. This is a place you should visit several times a week, if possible. This practice will allow you to get to know one area intimately instead of roaming all over. Most of us think we know our property pretty well, but this exercise might just change your mind. If you have the discipline to do this for an entire year, you’ll be amazed at what you’ll……
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Ask ten people what the word survival means to them, and you’re liable to hear ten completely different answers. Some would say survival is you against nature in a desperate, debilitating struggle to make it out of the woods alive. Others would conjure up images of anti-government extremists organizing militias, burying grain and ammunition, waiting for a major catastrophe or global war. The majority would be somewhere in the middle. A few might even define survival as an entertaining show on TV. Maybe one out of ten people would think survival is pretty cool, and that knowing how to live off the land would be a good thing.
My introduction to survival training came 18 years ago when I signed up for a week-long program at Tom Brown Jr’s Wilderness Survival School in New Jersey . After reading several of his books, I took the plunge. I went with the intention of learning how to track animals so I could become a better deer hunter. As a child, I was one of those nerdy kids who caught butterflies, and basically everything else that moved, just so I could take a closer look. Nature fascinated me, and I read everything I could get my hands on about animals and insects. In a nutshell, I thought I knew a lot about Nature before I even went to Toms introductory class. Little did I know, my world was about to be turned upside down. In one week this man showed me that I didn’t know anything about Nature, and what I had learned was superficial at best. I was missing over 90% of what was there to be seen and experienced, walking right past it all. Emotionally, I was crushed. I thought I knew Nature! “Why had I been missing so much?” … It was because no one had ever taught me the skills to be “Aware.” School certainly hadn’t taught me such things. After all, now that we’d become a civilized society, I didn’t need to have that knowledge anymore, right?
So many unanswered questions swirled through my head…