There are millions of Americans that have an innate connection to nature. They join the Sierra Club, or Green Peace, They drive Hybrids, they love hiking, camping, and Fishing. The American Connection to nature is part of our heritage, part of who we are. we had pilgrims, then long hunters, and rangers, then mountain men, and voyageurs. Now we have archaeologists and Spelunkers. Each year 282 million people visit our national parks. This does not include National Forests, National monuments, State Parks, State Forests, National Wildlife refuges, National Grasslands, etc.etc.etc….. Literally most of America Feels some sort of meaningful connection to the wild parts of our Nation.
But……..What does this connection mean, and how connected is connected. We wear Northface, Drive Subarus, read Outside Magazine, and Shop at REI, but how can our actions reflect our beliefs? Our connection to Nature can be more real, it can be more meaningful, and we can pass it on to our children. The culture of mass compulsory consumerism does not need to keep a footing in our culture. It only exists because we feed it. But, some people feel the pull of the wild, they feel that they don’t need to keep buying things. There are those in our society who do feel fulfilled from having the nicest and newest stuff, and that is just fine. For those who know that there can be more to life than that, You can look past the mirage, you can see that nature is the way. I’ve said it before, but, humans have existed on this planet in 1 form or another for around 7 million years, and it is only just in the last 100 that we have decided that we don’t need nature. We could not be more mistaken. We need water to drink, air to breath, food to eat, and trees to clean our air. Without these things human beings cannot live, Period. In order for these things to continue existing, we need NATURE.
Right now, you can choose to go outside, to be a part of nature. If you sit at home and watch television, how can you expect your children to do any different. You can find a whole new sense of self and feel really connected to the world around you. Humans are a part of nature, and we are a part of the food chain. When you feel it, you will never be the same again. Once you feel your place, you will never want to give it up again. It is a knowing of self, a pure feeling of confidence. and all you have to do, is go outside, and learn how to be there. Foraging, tracking, hunting, Camping, these are all a part of our birth rite. A true meaningful connection to nature, is different than a sense of connection. But, Anything is a good start. A person who has given up the trappings of modern society, and live in a hut in the woods, and a person who knows that something has to change, and goes camping for the first time, are both on the path of rewilding. Regardless of how far down the path one might be, it is all the same path. Anything that gets people outside and opens their eyes is what it takes, a place to start is all anyone needs.
May this be yours…..
This year I began teaching my daughter about wild edible plants, fire making, and tracking. She is 3. It took me a long time to get my head around the idea that I was going to teach my 3 year old girl to eat plants and make fires. She is the most precious thing in the world to me, and this seemed like a really dangerous prospect. I thought it over for months, I talked to my dad, I talked to my wife, I talked to Nurses and Doctors that I work with. I did research, and ultimately I decided that Kids need to know these things. She is not dumb, She knows that you can’t just eat whatever you find, and she knows that she can’t start fires on her own. These skills, and this knowledge are vital for our upcoming generations. This world is not in danger, I do not believe that the earth will be going anywhere anytime soon. However, We could be in a pretty tight spot before too long. If we can manage to give our children the collective knowledge of our ancestors, and connect them to the earth in a way that gives them a sense of meaning in this world. Then, then we can start to make some real change. There have been people on this earth for roughly 7,000,000 years give or take a century or two. From sahalanthropus tchedensis, until about 200 years ago, people lived as part of nature. As a part of the food chain. They knew that everything that a person could ever possibly need came from the earth. These people lived long happy mostly healthy and free lives. They had a ton of leisure time, and only “worked” to keep themselves warm, and fed. We can share these skills with our children in a safe and respectful way. We can make it a game even. If you do not possess these skills, there are plenty of good people who love to share their knowledge and love working with kids. You can facilitate this learning.
When I am teaching my daughter, I do not sit her down and say “OK, time to learn.” I say “hey! Do you want to go out to the woods?” This usually means time with grandpa Gregg, and it usually means ice cream on the way home. She loves it. So, we go out in the woods, I have a few forests that I frequent. I never have an agenda in mind, we just go. If we see some good tracks we stop and talk about animals and try to figure out which animal made these tracks and what they might have been doing when they made these tracks. We will spend a lot of time talking about what the animal might have been doing, or where they were headed. We attempt to surmise what time of day it could have been when they passed based on track erosion and animal behavior. Is it a mom, or a baby? How many are there? These are the questions that make a good tracker, and my 3 year old is doing it.
When we don’t see good tracks right away we look for plants. She is 3 she gets distracted and bored easily. If we see an easily identifiable plant we will discuss it. Have you seen this one before? Where? Do you remember what it’s called? If she does she gets rewarded with praise or a flower, or whatever. If not we talk about it. This is a dandelion, we have them at home. You can eat the leaves and the flower. As such, and so passes our time. We usually go for about 2 hours, it’s about all she can take at a time. She can now identify several common plants, and she doesn’t eat them without asking me or grandpa first. Now I’ve started taking her hunting with me. I don’t shoot anything in front of her, I just take her for a walk in the woods dressed in orange and carrying a rifle, to get used to the idea. (She does not carry a rifle, I do.) I believe that we can change the world simply by what we teach our children. I believe that we can put a huge dent in racism, sexism, and all other hate, simply by connecting our children to nature, and showing them that we all have a place in the world. And, that nature can give us everything that we need.
This fall has been very eye opening for me. I have always felt that I ate a pretty good percentage of wild foods in my diet. There is plenty of evidence that eating wild food is healthier for you. The nutritional content is higher, and there are Minerals and elements that do not regularly occur in domesticated foods that are not present in domestic foods. An issue that I had not previously given much thought to. If you do not have a successful hunting season, you do not have enough wild meat to carry you through the winter. So far this year I have harvested only a couple of squirrels. If I don’t get a deer before the end of archery season We will have only Store bought food to eat. How does one overcome this issue? I see a few options. 1: party hunting. In a party hunting scenario if 1 person gets game, the meat is typically split among the group. So, 3 people, 1 deer, everyone gets meat. This method may mean less meat per person, but at least everyone gets some wild meat. The 2nd would be: Raising your own meat. If you have the ability to raise chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, or whatever, then you open yourself up to a plethora of food options. No, this is not wild food, but it is better than whatever you might get from Tyson, Gold N Plump, or Johnsonville. You will know exactly how happy the animals lives were, what they ate, and whether or not they had hormones or antibiotics. It is what I would call an acceptable alternative. The third option, and what I consider the most appealing, would be: During optimum hunting and fishing periods, dedicate yourself as much as possible to the act of gathering food for you and your family. This may cut into social interactions, or video game time, but this is how you may best save up a winters worth of wild meat. It can be done. Small game, upland birds, migratory birds, Deer, Turkey, Bear, Fur bearers, Fish, We live in a world that provides plenty of game options. Pick your favorite, Learn to hunt them, and you can feed yourself.
If you prefer to live a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle that is your choice. In the modern industrial age it is pretty easy to get by on non-animal foods. But, you will rely on industrial agriculture. In North America there is not an appropriate climate for long term sustained Vegetarian life, without grocery stores. You may chose not to support modern animal farming techniques (on this point I agree with you.), but Wild food practitioners need animal protein for long term sustainability.
Last night we hosted a discussion on “What is Rewilding”. It was a great event with a great turn out. We had Curly dock bread and Dandelion pesto. We served Rose hip tea, Pine needle tea, Stinging Nettle tea, and Chaga tea. The discussion lasted 2 hours and I will lay out the basic premise for you now.
What is Rewilding?
Kenton Whitman of rewild university Defines it As:
You are physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually amazing. The answer to your problems is available to you within your own innate wisdom.
Like our environment, which is forever altered due to human intervention, human nature has also been irrevocably shifted. Rewilding isn’t about trying to go back to living as hunter-gatherers. Rather, it is about examining our cultural paradigms, seeing how they affect our physical, mental, and emotional health, and reclaiming our birthright as human beings.
Rewilding means restoring ancestral ways of living that create greater health and well-being for humansand the ecosystems that we belong to. … Rewilding learns from the examples of indigenous people past and present provided by anthropology, archaeology, and ethnobiology.
and Wikipedia says:
Rewilding means to return to a more wild or natural state; it is the process of undoing domestication. … Rewilding intends to create permanently wild humancultures beyond domestication.
I like to think of it along these lines.
The culture of 21st century humans on the planet earth does not work very well for very many people. Of course some people thrive and succeed in it, but they do so at the expense of most other people. for 7,000,000 years humans evolved in a manner directly in line with nature. We hunted and gathered, and we held our communities close. We used plants as medicine, and held reverence for the earth and the animals.
Then about 12-15,000 years ago a small group of humans started planting crops. Very quickly with this came monotheism, hierarchy, a sense of ownership of land and resources that had never been seen before. This idea swept the land and with a new sense of food security came cities and towns. and war and disease. You all know the story. In very short time human culture was completely changed and people abandoned or were taken from there appropriate lifestyle. 7 million years of evolution had been swept away in a heart beat.
Now fast forward 12,000 or so years, and for the most part humanity has lost all connection to nature. Of course there are a few hold out cultures, in South America, Africa, and a few islands, but by and large it is gone. In place of our connection to the earth, we have create a waste land, where we Mine, and log, and chemically synthesize everything that our fat lazy selves could ever want. Those at the top of the financial heap have convinced us that we will be happy if we buy enough stuff.
There are a growing number of people who know that this is wrong.
We want the world back.
But we can’t have it
What can we Do?
We can take our collective memories from our time as true members of the ecosystem, and combine that with our knowledge of how things are now and we can move forward toward a feral self.
So, what does rewilding encompass:
virtually everything. The list that I like goes something like this.
In the coming weeks and months I will break this down to reasonable bite sized pieces. we will explore this together. What do each of these things mean to us, and how can we implement meaningful change in our lives. we can change, and we must change. This is our path forward. With love, respect, understanding, awareness, and a strong connection to nature.
The long cold sleep of winter has finally given way to the hope of a new year. The rebirth of spring, and the coming of longer warmer days. This is a very exciting time of year, for rewilders as well as everyone else. For many it means: beaches, picnics, parks, and campng with friends. It can be all of those things for us too, just because we are erwilding doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun. However, for us it also means: Foraging, Gardening, Fishing, Being barefoot, Reacquainting ourselves with the land. It gives us a whole new set of reasons to get up and go in the morning. We need to recondition our feet, and get ou tto renew our intimate knowledge of the shape of the land. Where are the fiddel heads? Where are the Ramps. Do you know how to eat a baby Urtica Dioica without getting stung?
All of these things breed a sense of excitment. it feels very new and fresh even after the long winter. Here in the north we have felt cooped up for too long. Even getting out as much as possible in the winter feels like a jail cell of seperation from nature. We go ice fishing, and tracking, and snow shoeing. We do go out in the winter, but it simply isn’t enough. we crave spring. This isn’t to say that we should wish the winter away. Life is precious and we should drink in every moment of it. The spring Just feels a little bit more precious.
I am excited. Are you? I am ready for barefoot strolls in the woods, and wild foods right off oo f the ground.
See You out there.
As I am sure that many of you know, The more that I study Rewilding the more I realize that Rewilding is literally everything. Every decision you make, every movement that you perform, every dollar that you spend.
Kirstin and I have been rearranging and reworking our home in order to encourage more movement and a healthier lifestyle that happens organically rather than by force. We have made many small changes and are working toward more. Just a few of the ideas that we have put to use: Dishes on the bottom shelf. This way you have to squat or bend down every time you need a glass or a plate. Put your pans on the top shelf. This way every time you need a pan you have to reach up over your head to get it. we bought a dynamic work space mat to put in front of our kitchen sink. It has several different inclines to adjust your foot position and angle, and it has 2 balance points to work on your balance while you wash plates, and a static foot massager. We put yoga mats in our family room, this way we can sit on the floor while we watch TV. I have actually read that simply by sitting on the floor rather than in a chair or couch, that you can burn an extra 700 calories a day. This is just a small sampling of the changes that we are making in our lives. There are so many things and we will just keep talking about them until I run out of things to say, which may be a while. I mean: sleep, diet, movement, Spirituality, sex, community, communication, leisure time, all of these things are rewilding. Engaging with your child in an outdoor activity rather than watching a movie, choosing to have open and honest discourse with your significant other rather than guarded small talk. All of it. We have been done a grave injustice by our culture. We have been told that easy and comfortable is better than hard and real, this is not true. We are meant to live to feel ,to experience, and to sweat.
When I was in college my ethics professor asked the class: Would you rather live the perfect life, but have it be fake. You are lying on a table plugged into a computer, but as far as you know life is perfect. Perfect job, Perfect spouse, Perfect house, etc….. but it is all fake. Or, Live your actual life, with all of its’ pain, and all of its’ flaws. Every single person in the class chose real life. I feel like this point is being lost. Let’s get it back.
Well, It looks like we may actually get a spring. After an April full of snow and record breaking cold, the sun is shining and it is warm. It is glorious. We are in our new home now, and I am ready to get out and learn the land. I have new plants to learn, new routes, and find where the animals live. we are looknig forward to planning new classes and camps where you will be able to actually join us at Northwinds campus. we are also working on a monthly skills meet. This would entail coming on friday night and Cooking dinner around the fire. we will all camp out together and on saturday we will spend 6 -8 hours working on something. Maybe it is coal burned bowl and spoon making, or maybe we would harvest cattails or acorns. Each month would be a different topic, and it would be set up like a subscription service. Sign up monthly or sign up yearly.
These are only a few ideas that have been floating around in the North Winds arena. Mostly, we are just excited to learn our new home. We have already had trumpeter swans, a black bear, and a barred owl on our property. We have Red oak, Maple, Birch, White pine, and red pine on our property. We have found Stinging nettles, Sun chokes, Cattails, and so many more plants. We are also adjacent to 7,700 acres of Wildlife Management area. Here we can forage, and hunt, We track, and explore. This will be the home of North winds Wilderness School and my family for the foreseeable future. There is also the lake. We have 400′ of Shore line on Fish lake. Fish Lake is an 83 acre lake with no public access. There are a few homes on the lake, but only a few. This will give us access to fishing, canoeing, Aquatic plant ID, swimming, and more.
We are so thankful that spring is finally here, and we are very excited at the prospect of having you all to see the land. We have already scheduled a bow making class, and a tracking evaluation.
See you Soon.
The Gregorian calendar, much like our 24 hour clock are pretty arbitrary designations. In the grand scheme of what is actual real and natural they really don’t mean anything. Nature doesn’t know what November means and the sun is highest in the sky when it gets there, not when the clock says noon. You cannot say I am going to make maple syrup on March 25, and you can’t plan your wild ricing schedule a year in advance. These things are ready when weather patterns dictate that they are ready.
However, we live in a time and in a place that are highly dictated to by these ideological constructs. If we must live in a world where fake rules are imposed upon us, we might as well use them tour advantage. I have a 4-year-old daughter, I also have a wife, in-laws, a mother, a father, a brother, and a sister. All of us have different ideas about what is real and what is important. We hold family gatherings and various celebrations on various scheduled days throughout the year. ie. Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years day, etc…On these days I hold tight to my own beliefs, while doing my best to hold a positive and heartfelt space for my relatives. I tell my daughter the truth about the origins of these celebrations. (or, as close to the truth as I am able given her age, and my actual knowledge.) I also do my best to explain a multi cultural approach to each given day. Christians believe this, Muslims believe this, and pagans believe this, etc. you get my point.
This particular holiday, the end of the Gregorian calendar. It really doesn’t mean anything that I can find. I would put the end of the year at the solstice, but that’s just me. So I hold no reverence to this day, and after many years of working in bars and restaurants, I have actually come to loathe the day a bit. However, Why not put a positive spin on it, I will try at every step to put a positive spin on things and to try to pull others up, instead of pushing or holding them down.
I look at New years day as an opportunity to put the past behind me and move forward with a clean slate. I have forgiven myself for each misstep, and each transgression. I will learn from my mistakes and move froward in a positive and hopeful light. I left Future Necessities in October after nearly 10 years in business. Now North Winds Wilderness School will become everything that I have ever hoped for. I will be a role model for the world, and I will help bring people back to nature, and back to human nature. We are not reverting to caves, and mud huts. We are moving forward. Forward form a place of hate and destruction, to a place of love and cooperation. Humans do not own the earth, we belong to it. We are part of nature, and we are part of the food chain. In order to overcome the din of mental illness, and exploitation that is holding us right now, we need to come together as communities. Work toward nature, and toward wildness. We are born to live, to love, to learn, and to play.
So, let’s do that……..
Free Wildcrafted Tea Tasting and Rewilding Discussion
Join us for free Wild crafted tea tasting and Rewilding discussion. What is rewilding? How does it apply to my life? Can you do it from the city? We will discuss the Theory of rewilding and how we can encourage each other to evolve back toward nature. Our Natural life way has been neglected. We have strayed from the path that 7,000,000 years of evolution has laid out for us. We can get back on the right path, and we don’t have to give up our lives to do it. While we talk you will be offered the chance to sample several herbal teas that were harvested in the wilds of Minnesota. We will bring Stinging Nettle, White pine needle, Rose hip and more. We look forward to seeing you there.
Thursday February 15 6pm-8pm.