I know I haven’t posted anything in a while, and I am so sorry for that!
Let me just catch you up on what has been going on in the woods…
The recent weather has been more exciting than ever. The temperature has bounced back and forth between absolutely freezing and being pleasant. The coldest night so far was last week at 18 degrees, but just a few days after that the temperature reached back up into the forties.
Every night when I walk into the woods I notice all of the sounds around me (everything from the sound of the creek to sounds of cars on the nearby roads). When the temperature is below freezing, however, the forest seems to almost be holding its breath. Last week when my thermometer dropped below 20 degrees, the loudest noise I could hear was the ice cracking around the wigwam and sliding down the sides. I would absolutely say that I am awestruck at the thought of a time when people not only survived, but flourished during weather like this. I feel cold just getting out of my sleeping bag to walk to school- I can’t imagine how it would feel to not only live in the wild during winter but to also have to provide food for myself while doing so.
When I started this project, I wanted to experience as many different types of weather as I could in order to understand how the seasons revolve, and even though I’m only half way done I can really see how separated we have become as a society from weather (and from the seasons in general). Apart from simply wearing a coat and hat when it becomes chilly, we usually don’t experience any other major side effects from the seasons changing. In the woods, I have seen all of the wildflowers that I came to recognize by name die and disappear alongside the falling of the leaves. The woods are barren except the plants that are built to tough it out through the coldest months. In society, though, everything is still available regardless of the time of year. Television reception doesn’t die off like flowers do when the weather gets unpleasant- it is there all year round just like electricity and heating and air conditioning. Also grocery stores can provide fruits and vegetables even when it should be biologically impossible for them to be available, giving you access to every ingredient you could possibly need all year round.
When all of this is considered, it really shows the relationship between our society and nature- mostly nonexistent. We have shut out the “problems of winter” by getting rid of them. Yes it is cold outside, but because of the magic of indoor heating you would never know it was winter. And by the look at the grocery store produce department, we have shut nature out of our food production too by breeding foods that will grow out of season. We have totally gotten rid of any relationship with nature in this way, which is why we desperately need to strengthen the bond in other ways.
My senior year was supposed to be the easiest year of high school. What a joke! College applications, scholarship applications, working, and doing more school work than ever has combined for a pretty tight schedule, but I still find that falling to sleep in the woods is so much more relaxing than at home. Now that the creek is running full-time, I can’t hear animals like I could in August when the woods were dry, but I do see footprints every now and then on my way to and from the wigwam.
Sometime within the next two months I plan to make some visits to local elementary schools to talk to the kids about my project and to get them interested in spending time in the woods. I have already had several kids from the local elementary schools approach me with questions and can’t wait to spend time talking to them!
I’d like so say a special thank you to Rick Silberman and all of the guys at Ben Parker for making my wood stove for me. It really has been a perfect fit in the wigwam and has given me plenty of warm nights even when the temperature is below freezing. It has worked great!