Have you smelled the smoke in the fire you made lately?

Discussion in 'Bushcraft' started by Yard Dart, Oct 31, 2016.

  1. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator


    It had been too long since I'd last had a fire.

    The next morning the smell of wood-smoke on my shirt stopped me in my tracks.

    I didn’t wash that shirt for weeks.

    After watching Avatar for the first time, I was racked with cravings for the feral life.

    I wanted to drink blood from a horn, to let my body grime over with grease and gore.

    The ancient Japanese in the Last Samurai and their lives rich in rock, fire, iron, and wood got me the same way.

    You don’t sell your soul in some Faustian bargain.

    You bleed it out slow, one sterile, plastic, right-angled day at a time.

    You try to jump-start it with nostalgia.

    You look back to your golden years, when you were a god.

    You look back to that time you trekked through Nepal, or the summer you lived out of your pickup truck, broke, tan, and happy.

    You look back and think “God to be single again.”

    But that’s not it.

    It’s not the large commitments you’ve accepted, but the small ones you’ve shirked.

    Remember how simple it all is:

    Music. Put on headphones, lose yourself. Drift into sleep with the sounds of the masters in your ears.

    Writing. Dust off your journal. Write down your theories, your could-be futures, your unhinged rants.

    Outside. Unplug everything. Walk a mile in the dark. Build an unreasonably large bonfire.

    Poetry. Put the business book down. Try some Buber or Whitman or Ted Hughes instead.

    Conversation. Ring up the best conversationalist you know and take him to lunch. Light each other’s minds on fire.


    You know this.

    So why did you stop?

    You have a wife? You have kids? You have the busiest, most soul-sucking job on the planet?

    Doesn't matter.

    Abandon your health, and your body will fail you.

    Abandon your SOUL, and it will grind you into dust, destroying all meaning until you are lost in ways you cannot imagine.

    Let your skill's atrophy, you will not survive.

    Have you smelled the smoke in the fire you made lately? Have you walked the trails around your AO. Have you shaken the hand of a neighbor you have not met? What have you done to feel alive, connected, involved? Did you go and fish or kill an animal to feed your family this year and did you process your meat and package it for storage? Have you pulled out your camping gear and cleaned it, prepared it for future use, and repaired broken items.

    This months topic…. Primitive life skills and how you are preparing to be ready to implement those skills. When is the last time you made a fire, purified water from a lake, built a hasty shelter.....?

    I grew up on a small farm that was a part of a large ranch in Montana. We had a substantial garden, rabbits, pigs and bartered regularly with our neighbors for eggs, chickens, fruits and so on. We spent our summers raising food, working the ranch, getting firewood ready for the fall, and fixing what we broke along the way.

    Dad was a mechanic; mom was the traditional housewife during the winter and worked local jobs in the summer for extra cash. We did not have excess… but we always had good working tools, clothes, transportation, a solid roof over us, loyal friends and happiness. We laughed, we prayed, we worked hard to meet our needs…. I learned to build, work, repair, grow, handle livestock and so on…. in the goal to be ready for tomorrow. There was not a next year or 5 years down the road.. it was about what we can do today, to be better ready for life tomorrow.

    Today we are in trying times, times that could turn down hill quickly forcing us to rely on skills learned...or playing catch up with the potential to hinder your survival opportunities. Everyday we see things that concern us... and drive us to get better prepared for what may come. What are you doing to keep up with your primitive survival skills and knowledge? Have you acquired hand tools to build stuff, practiced bush-craft and various survival skills, sorted your gear to take advantage of your knowledge, made a survival manual off of available resources, made a rain catchment system... tell us what you are up to, what are your adventures and goals moving forward?
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2016
  2. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey+++

    Here here.
    UncleMorgan, Seepalaces and Yard Dart like this.
  3. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grampa Monkey

    Great Post, very well thought out and written, Man, That got the Wife and I to thinkin...................AND THAT, was the best part of this whole thing! Many thanks for THAT Yard Dart
  4. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    UncleMorgan, Seepalaces and Yard Dart like this.
  5. GhostX

    GhostX Monkey

    I have to give it to you, that was a great post, man. You really captured a deeper feeling and it was portrayed very well in your words. Consider me inspired ;) . I've been trying to learn those skills you mentioned but it's a slower process than I would like it to be with all of the distractions and responsibilities I have to take care of. I'm nearing the end of the book "freedom" (great read) and I'm about to try picking up something else. I haven't tried "Bushcraft survival" yet but I already have it downloaded. Do you have any suggestions for reading besides that?
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2016
  6. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    Sure, I have several ideas....here are a couple of links to dive into. ;)

    Survival Articles
    Resources | Survival Monkey Forums
    Survival Reading Room
    UncleMorgan likes this.
  7. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    For all the most excellent prose in post #1, the question remains -
    Are you set up to hunker down for the long haul, or planning on going out in a meteoric blaze? Here, for me, the remote location tells all, I'm hunkering, and as time has gone forward, preps are upgraded, stocks rotated, and tools maintained. (Some tools even get used to ensure the skill isn't too badly eroded/decayed.) Semi annual review of security and inventory is due and started.

    Now, if I were in a city environment, I might be thinking of how to make a difference on a street corner --
    Caveman Jim, UncleMorgan, GOG and 2 others like this.
  8. ssonb

    ssonb Confederate American

    I had not smelled the smoke in my clothes for many a year, after 28 yrs as a firefighter the smoke smell did not have the same allure.....Until I met a person I now call a friend who reintroduced me to the savor and proper flavor that comes from a well tended "campfire". He taught me that the effect he termed as "smoking the city evil off" comes from at least a two nite outside camp and campfire with the right cold seasonal temps that brings a sense of closeness and comfort . It is almost like having a weight fall off your shoulders.
  9. 3M-TA3

    3M-TA3 Cold Wet Monkey Site Supporter++

    Hang on a sec... you seem to be saying that I can't get the proper smokey smell from the chemically flavored wood pellets in my Traeger and I have to get out of range of high speed wireless? What kind of a primitive do you think I am?
    Caveman Jim, UncleMorgan, GOG and 3 others like this.
  10. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    There are a lot of fragrances that arouse memories, and I've looked back, and taken an honest look at the past, and seen things in the light of sweet memories and the bitter struggles in-between. .
    We tend like teens to think our selves supermen, till something get's seriously broken , and it only slows us down for the moment.
    Age comes along and we can't get up again like we did as kids , taller heavier and a bit more brittle.
    I grew up learning to make do with what I had to work with .
    It fell to me to make repairs on the place while dad was away working ,and with no money I had to learn to scrounge for plumbing parts and carefully take them apart and put things back together , amongst other things .
    Riding my motor cycle I get to enjoy fragrances of every single thing on the path/road ,be it the cigar smoke from the car ahead of me or some one's fire place smoke drifting through or the restaurant aromas of food being prepared .
    There are certain fires that remind me of fighting fire in the forest service and others from camps long ago, and cigar smoke that actually takes me back to when I was 4-5 at an evening city wide picnic back in "54" and the sound of coleman gas lanterns .
    Camping ,we'd deliberately stand in the smoke and let it permeate our clothes ,it was just all part of the experience.
    Good old days , weren't so good if you really look back at them.
    There were challenges then that have long sense been over come and forgotten almost . Communications for one thing has changed the world and few can appreciate the advantage it is till some glitch occurs in cell reception.
    I wish we had some of these advantages when I was in Search and rescue , the differences it may have made in saving lives would be significant . But that was then and this is now.
    One thing I've learned is "you can't go home"
    Change is the constant of the universe, like it or not. The homes I've loved are gone forever and only photos remain and soon forgotten. The future is all we really have to work with , because wallowing in the past will only lead one in a hole .
    I have friends that tend to rehearse past issues and doing so they hurt them selves , never progressing some even making excuses for their life rather then facing the future and dumping the past .
    Repent / forgive, and move on .
    We celebrate the old ways of doing things as a back up to modern methods at our fingertips . Let's face it , in a desperate situation and life and death matter , making a fire as fast a possible in a snow storm will take modern methods.
    But reverting back to the beggarly methods might prove to be too costly.
    Much as a I love traditional things , I too am an inventor , and have created means to make my job easier, both by method and new tooling . So I am as guilty of making changes as many others have .
    Your not going to turn back time , so the best any one can do, is prep our young for the future.
  11. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Holy-Moly! Shades of Emerson and Thoreau! I am hanging out with a bunch of wordsmith poets! I guess I need to be much more careful in my prose...or keep my trap shut which is probably the better idea. :)
  12. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    I think it is less of the campfire and more about the making of. Prime example of putting off till tomorrow:

    IMG_1179 (3). IMG_1180 (3).

    This is my bucket which I have been planning on using to make ashes. I need ashes for a thing or two- 30 uses for wood ashes | Survival Monkey Forums I do not have a fireplace or wood stove. I live in a high fire zone so a campfire is a huge fine plus not very wise. I have been throwing a stick or two in this bucket for a few weeks but just have not completed the task. My plan has been to get the kids involved, to gather our different fire starting devices and practice. We will see what works for each of us, and those devices that each of us do not like will not go in our personal bag. We will also finally create a bucket of ashes so that I can get the things I need them for done. It is a simple task that would take minimal time but I have put it off. I could say I have been too busy elsewhere but that would be making an excuse for laziness. Our bucket exercise may not be a campfire but it will be memory creating and a practice of skills plus getting some prepper stuff done that need to be done.

    We went for a hike/walk the other weekend. We hiked to where the oldest had made a fort with his friends. This was an awesome fort. I wish the picture was better.

    For fun, the kids decided this Spring to build a fort at the base of a downed tree. They actually dug 2-3 feet down then fashioned sticks and boughs over the top. They did use some mud and moss on parts of the roof. The boughs dried out and could be replenished but I noticed that the mud had hardened and it seemed mixed with the branches, making a nice roof.

    While hiking to the spot, I found a tree that had treasures and brought just a bit home to start working with.

    Now I just need to fashion a sling or something for the dog because at times he had trouble hiking where the boys (6 feet) were hiking.
  13. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    Smelled the smoke yesterday when I opened the stove door. My wife and I have been on a wood cutting binge finishing off 5 cord on Sunday. All stacked and ready for the Michigan Winter which is coming any day now. I am planning on cutting more as soon as we have two deer hanging.
  14. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey+++

    Been trying out some new cooking technique lately. Ain't nothing look a wood fire to do it up right.
    UncleMorgan likes this.
  15. duane

    duane Monkey+++

    Raised on a farm and wood smoke doesn't do it for me as much as the smell of a clean cow or hog, or curing hay or silage fresh from the silo, or curing meat hanging in a smoke house. We might not be as developed as the dog, but we can also use our noses to relive the good life. Good point, dwell on what worked in your favor in the past, savor it to the fullest, and then try to carry the successes into the future. Some of my fondest memories are linked to bad smells, changing kid diapers, helping my dad dress out the first deer I shot, etc, so I guess it is the content of the dream or recall, and not the sweet smell that counts.
  16. marlas1too

    marlas1too Monkey+++

    never forgot or will the things my mother and grand mother taught me growing and now that fall is here in WV. I will be using my wood cook stove to cook meals from time to time. love to do things the old way. still remember seeing horse or mule drawn wagons on the road when there was still more unpaved roads around. of putting up foods in the root cellar or canning to put into the pantry---I could go back to the old ways smiling all the way
  17. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    Lovely prose! Excellent post @Yard Dart

    The only time I'm gonna smell smoke is if your smoking the bacon or grilling. When is the next cook out at your house?
    UncleMorgan and Dunerunner like this.
  18. Pax Mentis

    Pax Mentis Philosopher King |RIP 11-4-2017

    Excellent post YD.

    I don't believe I have anything of value as a comment, but wanted you to know how impressed I am with what you have to say,
  19. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    Thank you kind sir!!
  20. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    I will be getting my bucket of ashes complete and this weekend I will be going to the preparedness expo. There are some things that I need to pick up. The more I prep the more I lean towards being minimalist. It is the change of seasons so I will be dumping the Get Home Bags out on the floor and repacking them for winter. Last winter I think I went over board and know some stuff does not need to be in there vs. somethings can be used for multiple purposes.
    UncleMorgan, Dunerunner and Yard Dart like this.
  1. Yard Dart
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