This year I have gone stir crazy about spoons and my new year’s resolution is to make one a week for the whole year. The pic above shows the collection so far. So I thought I would share with you how to make your very own spoon. Stop it, I can tell your excited. The key with making anything like this out of wood is to have patience. Sometimes you can get so bogged down or obsessed with the tiniest details that really don’t matter at all.
Armed with only the clothes on my back, a puuko knife, some matches, and a compass and map, I was sent off into the wilderness for a night. No sleeping bag or roll mat, no food or water. Why would you do that I hear you ask? This challenge was part of the course I am currently on, and was done to give a first hand feeling of being in a survival situation. Hopefully allowing us to dip into the emotions you may feel and the challenges you might face when you are stranded, dehydrated, hungry and cold.
During a recent skiing trip to Kylmäluoma we made and slept in a quinzhee. A quinzhee or quinzee is a shelter made by hollowing out a pile of settled snow.
To make one, you first make a big pile of snow. This one slept 2 comfortably and was 5m or so in diameter. Don’t worry about compacting the snow as you go, just make a large heap. Compacting the snow would not only takes ages, but it also ruins the insulating properties of the snow. Once you have a large enough dome you can mildly compact the outside with shovels or skis. After this, slide in 30cm sticks, roughly 50cm apart all over the structure. These sticks are not added for structural reasons as you might think but actually act as guides when hollowing out the chamber. Once the sticks are in place leave for around an hour to harden.
Making an effective shelter can be the difference between having a cosy and dry night’s sleep or having a horrendously cold and wet ordeal. I know what I would rather choose. In extreme situations, it could mean making it through the night alive.
In relation to building a shelter, Mikko our tutor aptly told us the fable of the cricket and the ant:
“During the wintertime, the ant was living off the grain that he had stored up for himself during the summer. The cricket came to the ant and asked him to share some of his grain. The ant said to the cricket, ‘And what were you doing all summer long, since you weren’t gathering grain to eat?’ The cricket replied, ‘Because I was busy singing I didn’t have time for the harvest.’ The ant laughed at the cricket’s reply, and hid his heaps of grain deeper in the ground. ‘Since you sang like a fool in the summer,’ said the ant, ‘you better be prepared to dance the winter away!’.”
We spent last week learning traditional wilderness skills with Turkka. Who I am told, is the older, Finnish equivalent of Ray Mears. He’s like a walking, talking Encyclopedia of all things outdoors. Everyone was awaiting the week eagerly, as the last time we spent with him – Week 4 – Food Preparation and Cooking – was so enjoyable.
We started the week by celebrating his 70th birthday. Several people asked him why he hadn’t retired. Rather than saying it was because he loved his job, he said it was because his pension was too low, and he needed the money. Smiles all round. He’s an eccentric and loveable character who, in between teaching us, would have the group sniggering with laughter, as he told tales of times gone by.