Once again my brain has decided to go with inspiration rather than my plan for writing today, but that’s okay, because it just means I’ll have more to write about when I do actually get round to typing things up. Unfortunately at the moment getting time to actually write seems to be pretty scarce, in between work, life, and other commitments. Normally I write my drafts out in a notebook, and then type them up and edit them at the same time, however this one is getting typed straight up as I’m writing it by a camp fire, in the dark, in the middle of nowhere. And by the middle of nowhere, I actually mean at a scout campsite, in Wilsden, about half a mile from my house.
I think everyone in life has that one thing that they do when they’re not feeling too great that always makes them feel better. For some people it’s a mug of hot chocolate, a cosy blanket, and their favourite Disney movie. For others it’s a hot bath and a glass of wine. For me, it’s being alone in the woods making fire. I feel like I should point out here that this fire is controlled, and I don’t just set random fires in the woods because that would be pretty bad. But anyway, I’ve always been part of a scouting family, and I was brought up going on camps, making camp fires, and just generally doing all that kind of outdoorsy stuff. In fact, it was probably one of the things I missed most while I was away at uni.
For the past few years I haven’t really had much of a chance to make many camp fires, and for me that’s actually pretty sad. However tonight was my first chance in ages I actually got to make one, and I remembered exactly why I love doing it. There’s something so incredibly calming about being out alone in the woods, collecting fire wood, building your fire, then watching it go from tiny spark to a roaring fire. Occasionally, if I’m feeling particularly emotional about something, I’ll write a letter, getting all my feelings out and then burn it in the fire. Today’s fire wasn’t very neat, but it was mine, and I got it going properly on my first attempt.
There is just something about all those skills, fire lighting, being able to build a shelter, being able to find your own food, medicine, resources, that has always absolutely fascinated me. I’m borderline obsessed with that kind of really human, hunter/gatherer way of life. And sometimes, when modern life is stressing me out, and my mental health is getting bad I dream of escaping. Of having just me and a horse, going completely off grid, no people, no modern technology, just fashioning out a life living by my own, travelling around, finding food, making shelter and fire where I need to. Unfortunately I don’t have enough of a skill set to be able to do that at the moment, but at least I know if I’m ever lost in a forest I can make myself a fire and basic shelter.