Mike Douglas, Director of Adult Programs

First Fire. With a bow drill or hand drill, each fire is always your “first fire”. People who have gotten a coal know an experience and a feeling that touches our primal core. The mildly interested passerby offers you the lighter he’s flicked a thousand times. We know “first fire” from the thousandth coal we’ve coaxed beats the childhood fascination with flicking a bic the first time. First fire changes who you are. It seems to awaken a long dominant part of our being. First fire means you’ve followed a primal instinct well beyond the fenced in area of the domesticated mind. First Fire unplugs you from the Matrix. You begin to know things without knowing how you know them. Tree identification, physics, interpreting tactile and auditory cues as problem solving strategies, earning an appreciation for something everyone takes for granted, feeling more connected to the landscape because you are. Sacred, that’s what it is. At least it seems that way each time I see it happen. This class was strong in shelter building. Everyone built and slept in Debris Huts in light clothing in below freezing temperatures at night (and near seventy degree days). The dry weather facilitated everyone getting a coal, and their piute traps looked great. But fire, specifically getting a coal, is the thing that seems to have the most profound internal change for most people. Comfortable night stays in a debris hut do it too, but dialing in that shelter takes longer and involves more effort than friction fire and most domesticated patterns and tolerances aren’t ready to make that commitment. It’s not a bad thing, it just takes longer to cultivate awareness patterns and a pace more in line with the natural world than with rush hour traffic. But first fire sits you down and puts you right there. First fire bursts into flame from your breath, that puts the sacred quite literally “in your face”. Thanks Anthony, you had a great “First Fire” experience. It helped us all remember and reactivate our sense of thankfulness for these skills.