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!’.”
Over the past 2 weeks we had our first identification test, learnt all about food hygiene, hosted the yearly IWG meeting, joined an elk hunt, learnt how to sharpen our knives and axes, learnt the basics of snowmobile maintenance, had our night orienteering test and learnt some new knots. OH, and had the first proper snowfall for the year! Ohhhh yeaaah.
On Wednesday we had an identification test on berries, mushrooms, polypore, mosses, lichens and tree species. Before the course started several months ago, other than a few tree species and several mushrooms, my fauna knowledge was patchy to say the least. Over the previous months we’ve gradually learnt a selection of species from discussions with teachers and classmates whilst out mushroom picking or on expeditions. That said, there were around 150 species that we needed to learn for the test, and the previous week was spent revising at every available opportunity to try to remember them.