- Walk slowly and make frequent stops to observe your surroundings. Like a leaf softly landing on still water, try to send faint ripples in the woods not tidal waves.
- Take notice of the story nature is telling: bird song, animal behavior, weather patterns etc.
- Collect resources as you go. These may not be available at your destination.
- Coals are for cooking, flames are for boiling.
- Listen to your gut. If you get a gnawing feeling something is not right, pay attention and proceed with caution.
Todd Walker is an experienced writer on wilderness survival skills and outdoor self-reliance. I don't agree with all of the 'prepper' stuff that he's into, but Todd's tips on survival in the wild are really excellent. Here's 19 of his useful lessons:
Why We're Running Workshops that Help You Explore the Powerful Wisdom of Your Body
I was listening to comedian and actor, Eddie Izzard, on the radio this morning. He’s just finished 27 marathons in 27 days. (!)
They ask him if he’s taking a rest, or if he’s already planning to start running again.
"You're asking this now?!?" he jokes.
Then after a moment's thought, "I expect I'll be doing half marathons every couple of weeks,” he says. He pauses.
“I need to move... like we did when we were kids...
"At some point as adults, we decided that wasn’t a good idea, but we’re natural animals, and we need to move. We forget that."
He’s right. We are animals. And I know I forget that.
It was a beautiful sunny Sunday in Stanmer Park, Brighton. Perfect for our latest event, A Forager's Feast with Wild Spring Greens, led by Robert Fallon of Wild Nature.
We started by going out to forage for nettles, one of nature's superfoods. On the way to the nettle patch, we tasted Blackthorn flowers, and thistle stalks (remove the spikes first), and were warned about ragweed and hemlock.
Back at our outdoors kitchen, we prepared, and ate:
Pictures from the day below!
Since I was a child, Silver Birch has always been one of my favourite trees.
The wispy branches, and ghostly white bark always draw my attention in the woods.
Something about silver birch makes me feel safe. Perhaps because I can always tell it apart from other trees.
It has uses too.
The white peeling bark is great for lighting fires, and the buds and twigs have tons of medicinal uses:
Today we sit inside the willow dome, instead of our usual spot outside by the fire. I notice I'm feeling uncomfortable.
I like having full view of the plants and the sky, and today, even though it's not totally blocking everything out, I'm feeling hemmed in by the structure.
I say this. It's not universal. "I prefer the womb-like feeling of being in an enclosed space," someone else says.
It's funny because I've been thinking a lot about structure this past week. I'm working on a presentation for work, and have been wrestling with getting all my thoughts and ideas organised into the right framework.
Martin says it's a question I should keep in mind for today's session. And he begins, explaining the Four Directions, as understood by the School of Lost Borders.
West, where he's sitting, is about adolescence and struggle. North is about adulthood and responsibility, East about spirituality, death and rebirth, and the South about childhood and playfulness.
We spend a quiet moment tuning into ourselves and then each go off in the direction that we feel drawn, paying attention to what happens.
Despite a thought to go west, a place of struggle, I feel drawn to the south. Playfulness. It's a direction I haven't walked in from here before, perhaps because there's a hedge in the way, and it has felt closed off to me.
I cross the threshold of the space, and start off east, turning south when I hit a track.
I'm calm, and content to just follow whatever happens.
Behind the hedge, south from where I started, is a field I feel drawn to get into. But I can't. It's surrounded by fences, with no gate. Behind it, further south, is another field where horses are grazing. It looks nice, and I decide I'm going to find a way in.
I continue south, down the track, and turn off west into a small thicket, thinking I might find a way into the field behind.
I look down. There's a beautiful grey, black and white feather at my feet. Wood pigeon. I smile, "I must be on the right path," I think, and pick it up. The thicket is overgrown and dark, and I claw my way through the undergrowth, following a faint trail made by an animal or child... my coat rips on a thorn. It all feels playful, and also strangely symbolic, like a descent described in mythic stories.
Nigel Berman is founder of School of the Wild, the experimental nature school.