Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Winter's Last Hurrah

I took advantage of the snowfall on Friday night to get out into the woods, in snow, on Saturday. As I didn't get there until the afternoon there were already a lot of tracks - dogs and people mostly. I am beginning to take more not of bird tracks, it is quite easy to see how the bird was moving although by the looks of the tracks I see about most of the birds around here (crows, magpies etc.) either drag their wing tips, tail or hind toe as they leave quite a distinctive "train track" linking all the foot prints together.
I walked around the woods for a bit, mostly looking to see if spring was here already - as yet the sap isn't running in the birches. I decided it would be good practice to get a small fire going for the purpose of brewing up a cup of tea.
I collected some birch bark from a shedding tree. As it was so fine it would have been well suited to lighting with sparks. Personally I find that thicker bark is better with matches (which are what I lit this fire with)
I also collected some dead pine twigs, complete with dry needles to help get the flames going and for the bulk of the fuel selected some dry pine cones. The cones make a great fuel as they burn easily and quickly. They also burn down to ash with out leaving any ends or unburnt lumps which makes them relatively easy to tidy up afterwards.
To help the twigs get going I feathered a few of them, probably unnecessarily. I am getting better at making feather sticks. It is a combination of getting the knife sharp and of keeping the blade still.
I tried, once again, getting a boiling fire going in the fire bowl. It is very hard to stand a mug in the bowl and actually direct heat towards it though. I barely managed to get the water to boil with the fuel I had - It was just difficult to focus the heat.
I'm thinking of trying to come up with something like a mucket as shown here (courtesy of which is a cross between boiler and mug and was a favourite in my reenacting days.
All in all it was a good trip out and I've got a few ideas for things to play with.The sun setting behind the pine and birch trees, in the light snow, provides a beautiful end to the season.


OGTL said...

Spring! I'm sort of jealous. This -35 C and 4 feet of snow nonsense is getting old.