In an emergency situation in the wilderness, there is a commodity that can be the difference between surviving and expiring. A remarkable array of resources are made available by a magical combination of oxygen, heat, and fuel. This extraordinary combination provides the ultimate survival asset – fire!
Most people realize that fire can produce heat. That warmth that permeates the soul when a deep chill has just about convinced you that you will never again feel warm. But there is so much more. Fire provides light which allows you to see when darkness comes. It allows you to dry your clothes when wet from either rain or submersion in water. It provides a means of signaling, whereby an abundance of billowing white or black smoke (whichever one contrasts best against your background) could identify your position to those looking for you. The use of fire can boil water in order to purify it for safe drinking and use. Fire can be used to cook in order to, either make food safe to eat, or make it more palatable. Fire can make tools and useful devices such as spoons, bowls, and even fire hardened spears.
One of the often overlooked benefits of fire is a sense of companionship. A friend in the dark that helps repel the noises of the night. Fire provides comfort and is a morale builder. You are not alone because you have your friend, your fire. The warmth and light it provides dispenses comfort, renews your spirit, and revives self-confidence.
This is why those persons in the know – those who practice their survival skills before they need them, become elated when they make fire. Just watch a person using the bow and drill technique in an attempt to make fire. After fashioning and assembling the required components, an intensity of conviction consumes their motion. The methodical spinning of the spindle, with a makeshift bow, continues until the initial wisps of smoke erupts from the fireboard. The spinning of the spindle is then magnified and pressure on the spindle intensifies. As the smoke changes in color, a different smell exudes from the fire board, and the spinning stops. The spindle is held on top of the fire board momentarily to contain the heat. Finally, as the spindle is cautiously lifted, an ember appears.
The ember is gently transferred to a tinder bundle that has been carefully and meticulously molded and fabricated for the purpose of turning the sacred ember into flame. The tinder bundle is held high, cradling the ember inside, to prevent the eventual smoke from blinding your actions. The initial blowing into the bundle is slow and easy. White smokes erupts, lightly at first, but as the blowing of the ember intensifies, so does the smoke.
Then suddenly, it appears. Like magic, flames erupt from the tinder bundle, and it appears as if a miracle has occurred. Fire has been created by the hand of man and the person almost always, at least the first time, exclaims, “I Made Fire.” The importance of what they have created is only subtly comprehended.
Copyright © 2014 by John D. McCann