Quotations, Poems And Passages

Quotations, poems and passages from articles and old books jump out at me from time to time. Posts where they\’re quoted are here.


I’m at the field school for the next week running the Winter Woodsman course. One of the things that we cover during the week is making a few different deadfall traps. I’ve searched for forty years for that perfectly rectangular rock that’s depicted in deadfall line drawings in survival books. I’m convinced it doesn’t exist. [...]

Kids need outlets in nature and time spent unplugged. When they do, great things happen. Things like this. What The Mountains Tell Me Every day I go on a hill To watch the mountains calm and still They tell me stories of climbers climbing them with pride Or little kids like you and me Dreaming [...]

It’s no secret that I love the winter. When the mercury drops and the snow falls, most people leave the forests, not to return again until spring unless taken there by a gas-powered contrivance of some sort. It makes even a few acres of woodlot feel like a vast wilderness when the wind is howling [...]

I first met Mors Kochanski in 1995 at his place in Alberta. Over the years we’ve stayed in touch and I’ve learned much from his sage advice. Recently at Woodsmoke we were chatting when someone complained about being kept up late the night before. Mors responded with several great lines I’ll never forget. I’m paraphrasing, [...]

It’s tax day today.  I’ve spent a considerable amount of time over the past few weeks working on ours. I always find it a little odd to have a year’s worth of work represented by numbers on a piece of paper or in a computer program. Obviously they tell a very small part of the [...]

These two quotations from “The Art Of Outdoor Living” jumped out at me because what they say about experiential education and a realistic assessment of skill through a practical exam apply directly to our new Journeyman Bushcraft Instructor & Wilderness Guide Certification Program. Scroll to the bottom for full bibliographic information. “The training and preparation [...]

I’ve been writing a lot about self-reliance lately.  Below is an old legend I first read as a kid, offering you another culture’s take on it, from a book called The Hiawatha Legends.  Enjoy. Shingebiss An Allegory Of Self-Reliance – From The Odjibwa There was once a Shingebiss, the name of the fall duck living [...]

You learn to write by writing. It’s a truism, but what makes it a truism is that it’s true. The only way to learn to write is to force yourself to produce a certain number of words on a regular basis. – William Zinsser, from “On Writing”, p.49. Is there anything you could switch writing [...]

I  have learned more about fungi from Paul Stamets‘s book Mycelium Running (Amazon.com link)  than any other resource.  While other books on mushrooms are often great field guides for identifying individual species, Stamets’s book has helped me to understand the ecology and relationships of mushrooms.  I still have a long way to go, but I [...]

One of my all-time favorite books is Elliott Merrick’s True North.  It is his journal of a year spent in Labrador in the late 1920’s when he journeyed upriver to the height of land and learned to live off the country with the trappers.  I’ll eventually get to writing a review of it, but I’ve [...]

My experience running 16 bushcraft and wilderness semester courses has taught me the value of taking a time-out from modern life and living more simply. I’ve seen the positive effect the experience has had on course participants. I know the effects it has had on me. Some of these include: Separating needs from wants. Living [...]

Zen Of Bushcraft

This quotation from the introduction to The Book Of Five Rings discusses what Zen is.  The Zen of bushcraft, then, is doing something so many times that doing it becomes second nature. “In Zen first comes the technique, practiced so many times that it is forgotten.  Then you begin to use it.  It is when [...]

Last summer I found an old magazine a friend had left at my place. It was the summer, 2004 issue of Outdoor Canada magazine, and on the last page was a short article titled “Homage” by Gary Ball. In it he gives his list of the perfect qualities a guide should posess. I think he [...]

There’s an idea about competing that winning is everything. It isn’t. I like to compete because it pushes me. Physically, it teaches me how much more is in the tank when the needle is hovering on “E”. As a business owner, it keeps me thinking about how to do it better and to create something [...]

Admirable To Profess

“There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers.  Yet it is admirable to profess because it was once admirable to live.”  Thoreau from chapter on Economy in Walden. There are nowadays many instructors of bushcraft and wilderness living skills, but few who spend much time in the bush.  Yet it is admirable to profess [...]

I’ve been an avid reader of Vilhjalmur Stefansson over the years, and I have a habit of writing down passages that really speak to me.  Having grown up with the common stereotypes associated with stone age people, I’ve always been especially interested in first hand accounts of explorers who made the first western contact with [...]

During each field school program, we always take a few hours to visit the Ashland Logging Museum.  It’s a great place to learn more about the woods life lived by loggers before the chainsaw and the logging road.  There are replica cabins, a Lombard log hauler, a king’s pine, and numerous other items of interest.  [...]

The book of poetry titled Pine Tree Ballads was published in 1902 and has some great pieces about the north woods of Maine.  The Knight Of The Spike-Sole Boots by Holman Day tells the story of a sport who tried to run the Hulling Machine on the East Branch of the Penobscot River.  I’ve run [...]

I’ve been a fan of Bill Mason’s films and books for several decades.  He was a proponent of wood canvas canoes, canvas tents, and traditional skills of the bush.  I picked out a great quotation from his film Waterwalker the other night: You see things differently when you travel the way the native peoples did. [...]

Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson wrote that “adventure is a sign of incompetence.”  But if it isn’t for adventure, why do people do the things they do?  I’m with Stefansson on adventure.  It implies that you’re not prepared for what you face, which, in the case of living a life outdoors, should never be the case.  [...]

The number of primitive skills and survival schools has swelled in the last few years, and while all schools are not created equal there are many opportunities to learn wilderness skills these days.  It’s important to be clear about what we do because it’s different than what’s available elsewhere.  Yes, we teach skills.  We’re among [...]

I’ve taken a wide variety of wilderness medical courses around the northeast. In 2000, I took a winter medicine and rescue course at the AMC center in Pinkham Notch at the base of Mount Washington. It was a two-day course, and on many nights they have slide show presentations for the people staying there. The [...]

Last summer I guided a trip to northern Quebec where we spent a week with Cree guides David Bosum and Lawrence Capissit. They were born in the bush and have spent their lives living off of the country there. One day one of guys on the trip was asking David some questions about winter trips. [...]

“Having done is worth more than having read, having watched, or knowing how.” I was thinking about experiential learning yesterday when the line above came to me. I think it will be our slogan for 2008. We live in the era where information is everywhere. But we should never confuse familiarity with understanding or experience. [...]

Yesterday we rebuilt the sauna, and today we’ll start scraping deer hides so as to make buckskin.  Below is one of my favorite quotes from Sigurd Olson. The bush is a complex of many joys — companionship on the trail, the thrills of exploration, the impact of silence, vastness, and infinity, the good feeling of [...]

I had a professor in graduate school who said that we decide how the world works by the time we’re two and a half years old, and we spend the rest of our lives justifying and defending that idea. It’s a concept that keeps coming up and makes me think about what I believe and [...]

“In the woods you must expect to pay a certain price in discomfort for a very real and very deep pleasure.  Wet, heat, cold, hunger, thirst, difficult travel, insects, hard beds, aching muscles–all these at one time or another will be your portion.  If you are of the class that cannot have a good time [...]

I saw a documentary yesterday called America’s Stone Age Explorers which examined the evidence behind the various theories on the peopling of the Americas. It is the first bit I’ve seen in the mainstream media to challenge the Clovis first theory – the one we were all taught in school about the land bridge at [...]

Another in our series of notable quotations. I first came across Richard Nelson’s books while living in Alaska. This quotation is interesting from the perspective of anthropology, as well as for learning the skills of another culture which is common in bushcraft. Different cultures don’t just do some things differently – often they see and [...]

 


 

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Typos, Etc.
Note: Anything that appears to be an error in spelling or grammar is actually the author’s clever use of the vernacular, and as such is not an error, but rather a carefully placed literary device that demonstrates his writing prowess.

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