This summer I watched someone light a fire using a bow drill. I was working with an outdoor school and we were told it was a kids birthday after dinner. The next chance to acknowledge the birthday would be at camp fire. After dark we we walked through the forest to the fire pit the kids huddled together. Dragonfly asked for silence and intention from the group of kids gathered. He knelt one foot on the base board, spindle wrapped in the bow, a tinder bundle beside him. He placed the spindle into the notch on the base board and started sawing. The tension grew in the forest, I could smell hot cedar. Dragonfly sawed faster, wisps of smoke barely visible rose from the board. Children leaning in, anxious for the camp fire to be started, maybe for the silence to be broken. Dragonfly still sawing called the birthday girl to come close and gently pick up the tinder bundle. She stood beside him bundle in hand. Dragonfly looked down at his board, a tiny glow just visible. The girl passed him the tinder bundle. He tucked the glowing coal balanced on a leaf into the tinder bundle. Cradling the tinder bundle in his hands, he showed her how to put her hands then gently place it in her hands. He asked her to blow into the bundle, wisps of smoke rose. He coached her until she had a large smoking ball in her hands then asked her to make a birthday wish. He told her that this year instead of blowing out a candle she could blow her dreams into a fire. With one last breath out the smoking ball erupted into fire. Dragonfly took the now burning bundle and tucked it under the teepee of kindling. As the wood began to crackle the tension dissipated, a moment one can see why people believe in magic.
When I saw this poster from a friend who teaches wilderness survival skills I knew I had to sign up for the fire making workshop. I’ll let you guys know how it went next post, meanwhile check them out! The Wilderness Living Project