Early Spring Forage, Saturday 19th March, Berlin

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Come and join Waldgeist/Grunewald Foraging’s first Wild Edibles Walk of the season, a lake-side and woodland hike uncovering some of the first emerging wild flavours of the season. Learn to recognize wild edible plants and mushrooms in their first stages, a crucial part of safe identification. Discover forgotten ingredients, ancient food-sources and even wild food on the gourmet side. Experience your environment as if it were your vegetable garden, medicine cabinet, even hardware store, an environment whose usefulness and plenty is limited only by your knowledge and instinct. Get to know other foragers, share stories, recipes and foraging tips. The foraging walk costs 25€ per person. Invoice and booking confirmation are given on payment in advance. For more information write to grunewaldforaging@gmail.com. I look forward to seeing you there. Jonathan.

Bowdrill Ember

This is some footage of my last bit of bowdrill practise. I’ve learned many things from working with this set, the most important lesson being that it’s about what works, not what you think it should look/feel like. I seriously recommend the barefoot method for gripping the hearthboard, as it’s possible to gently change the angle to accommodate for any slipping/crookedness you might be experiencing while working the drill (as in the video when the horrible squeaking begins).

Abenteuer * Adventure

This weekend we will work from the principle that while stories have their worth, we must make our own adventures. We must listen to our desire to see what lies beyond that peninsula, to know what it feels like to walk the woods by the light of the moon, to climb a great tree, to sleep out on the snow, to take a canoe out onto the water and to just ‘go’. We believe that individual adventures take priority over group activities, and we feel part of our work is to encourage our guests’ desire to plunge into unknowns and beyonds.

Wald und Gewässer * The Woods and the Waters

Our ancestors’ existence depended on assessing the qualities of their surroundings, especially on exploring unknown lands. As nomadic pioneers, we learned to read the land and its water sources as if they were part of a file in the Land Registry. Therefore we will need to reclaim the ability to look at a proposed camp site and make informed decisions about its suitability as a camp. Reading ‘the lay of the land’ is our main focus here. In order to feel grounded and to develop an expanding familiarity with the wild, will also need to begin to rediscover the act of natural or intuitive navigation, just as in the city we might find our way around a new neighbourhood.

At our Wildcamps, we entertain the question ‘how far is it to the other side of the lake?’ by taking a boat across its surface, or stuffing a waterproof bag with some essentials, and swimming that distance. The answer we will get to this question will therefore be unique to ourselves. We therefore become the measuring instrument and the living map of our surroundings.

Rituale * Ritual

It has been said that in our modern age, we have lost our sense of ritual and tradition. Whether we choose to agree or disagree with this statement, very few people seem to be concerned with making new ones to replace the ones we have lost. Ritual and tradition are not kept alive in anthropological studies. If you have so much as made time for a cup of tea and a book once a week, or even taken a break at a certain spot in the park near to where you work, you have engaged in something of a ritual. If you have engaged in a ritual with someone else, or helped to continue it, you have engaged in a tradition of sorts.

In the wild, new rituals and traditions are likely to encourage our interaction with and our sense of place within nature. A ritual doesn’t have to be shamanistic or exotic: it can be a simple act to highlight the importance or significance of some part of our daily actions, or it can be something that we build into our routine to bring a sense of comfort wherever we may be. It may simply be a symbol of intent, a visual reminder, a feather, a piece of bone.

A tradition is something to share. We might find new traditions in ancient ones, or in seeing ancient things with modern eyes. Maybe those stars just don’t resemble a Plough for us anymore. Maybe they look like a Shopping Trolley, a Cheese-Knife, a Turkish Coffee-Pot. We might ask the children to make up the story of how those things got into the heavens. Perhaps a tradition we start at a Wildcamp will be something to be continued by all groups in the future.

Material

To progress from a shelter consisting of nothing more than a pile of leaves, and to create tools and useful items which will aid our living comfortably in the wild, we will have to begin to experiment with the pliancy and usefulness of the natural materials around us. Dead-standing wood, green wood, bark, pitch, plant fibres, sand, stone and bone, with the help of fire, will be our main resources, and through experimentation and instinct, we will begin to form an affinity with the virtues of our local malleable materials. The materials available will be the result of our habitat and our results will reflect not just our skill but also our capacity for innovation in our new and unavoidable role as frontier craftsmen. Carving, weaving, and above all the engagement of our imaginitive faculties will be the prime activities here.

Gemeinschaft * Community

Living in the woods with others tells us much about the origins of organized communal living, and even more about our own character, our strengths, our weaknesses, our biases and our ability to co-operate with others. In a wild community, there is no room for the distractions, denials and half-compromises that make living in a dysfunctional group possible elsewhere: commune or dissolve are the only options. Many aboriginal communities stress the importance of several communal tools: the ability to listen, to strive to make unclouded judgements, to speak without hurtful content, to include and encourage, to trust in (and to expect trust from) the other members of your community.

Even the incidental conditioning of modern living can give us a tendency toward stubbornness, bias and prejudice, sarcasm, making cloaked insults, exclusion or ridicule, a wariness of others and a refusal to discuss the true feelings we have for them and which they engender in us. In an established wild community we would hopefully have moved way beyond these traits; in our Wildcamp community we will make a concerted effort toward their opposites, but we will accept the reality of this conditioning and discuss its appearances frankly, always in the context of the wild community. Why is it perhaps not right for us to act on these feelings now? Why are these criticisms inappropriate at camp? How would we solve this conflict as an established wild community, and why not in the established, modern way?

Feuer * Fire

At our Wilcamps, fire is the unifying symbolic element, whether it is used for warmth, for cooking, for working with materials, or as the central focus of a communal gathering. We will busy ourselves with the various safe and sustainable methods of fire-making, right down to the making of ‘primitive’ fire. That said, fire is something much more even than the ability to produce and maintain it. Just what that something might be will often be the focus of discussion during our gatherings.

Wildnis * The Wilds

Even semi-wild land is an intricate weave of interrelations; the slow-formed lands and waters, the ceaseless competition and coexistence of nature, the cycle of the seasons and the lives and habits of plants, animals and other living organisms. The natural world is as overflowing with significance as our modern world is awash with information. To exist in the wild we need first to furnish ourselves with the means to do so, and to enjoy living in the wild, we need to begin to verse ourselves in the significance of some of its phenomena. Roots, plant stems and nuts are food for the belly; the booming call of the bittern, the tracks of a red fox in the snow, the scent of a hardwood campfire through the trees, food for the imagination. Both are essential to us during our stay in the wild.

Tiere * Animals

Our Wildcamp is surrounded by a diverse range of wild animals, whose behaviour and habits we can choose to bring into our thoughts and our sense of being in the woods and the wilds. Though difficult at first, even on a weekend trip we can begin to form a picture of the invisible lives of the creatures that share these outdoors. Using the most simple foundations of tracking and a wakeful mindset, we will discover how we can ask intuitive questions about the signs, traces and tracks left by animals, providing great insight into their world. We will learn to put aside our academic focus, and even our trusty field guides, and to arrive at conclusions about an animal track via an altogether natural approach to information.

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