An excerpt from Vague’s new tumblr blog. Read more online here.
Another day with no photographs, and my journal also records I was conscious of the fact I was letting my recording of events slip slightly. I had been busy, thatching, tidying and sorting the shelter, hanging food and equipment from paracord tied to the shelter. I had also ensured I had a good supply of dry firewood – a task that takes time and, as the old woodsman’s saying goes, keeps you warm three times; first when collected and carried, second when sawn, chopped and processed and finally when burnt.
This was a good thing, the weather had been cold and damp all week, with rain soaking everything. In my shelter, with a fire and my layers of wool, I was warm, if not entirely dry all the time. When I went out to relieve myself, or collected wood or water, I often came back very wet indeed. Yet this was the west coast of Scotland, an area of temperate rainforest where water was everywhere and intrinsic to the landscape.
Even when I was within the wood and heather walls of my shelter the wildlife still came to visit. I have already mentioned the wood mouse, the robin and the wren and my journal from this day records the visit of a noisy family of shrews, moving together along the base of the walls, shrieking, calling, squeaking. My camera was hung up and in its case to protect against the damp and the smoke, and I did not dare move, lest I frighten the tiny creatures. Instead I sat and watched as they rushed around catching spiders, cranefly and anything else that seemed like a tasty morsel. They were enchanting little creatures – although sitting observing them showed just why they have such a reputation for ill manners.
On this day I also levelled the area of the floor where I was now sleeping, and began to design a better bed. I wove a neck sheath for my main knife, as having it on my belt was proving impractical. I also sharpened all my tools – something that is often forgotten by those who only play at “survival skills”. Indeed, I have known people who have bought a new knife rather than bother to learn to sharpen. This behaviour is alien to me – I have had one of my knives for nearly twenty years now, my main sheath knife for over a dozen and my axe for six.
When I was younger (much younger) I was not allowed knives, my Mum hates the things, equating them with violence, as many of the population of the UK sadly do these days. I got around this by making a knife for myself, using an old Sheffield steel butter knife I found at my Granny’s, in a shed. I laboriously ground this with a piece of sandstone to reshape the blade, then learnt to sharpen it, also using a piece of stone. I then made a sheath from an old belt and used the leather from an old moccasin slipper to make the bone handled grip larger. I still have this knife today, and it is still kept razor sharp, the leather well oiled. A blunt blade is a disaster waiting to happen – more force is applied than should be used for a cut, exponentially increasing the chances of slipping and cutting oneself.
If children were routinely taught to appreciate a knife as a tool, learn to handle them, care for them, reshape them for their own needs, I wonder; how they would view them? Everyone I know who was brought up using blades as tools would never think of using them as a weapon.
Although no photos were taken on this day, I would more than make up for it on the 16th, and I am currently wondering which of the 126 I should upload tomorrow…