Monday, 17 December 2012

Christmas?

Christmas is coming!
For me this is a time of year for reflection. As the snow builds on the ground my environment becomes more and more insular.  Walks in the woods are serene, almost silent and visitors to the house are fewer and fewer as weather becomes bad for driving.
This is my time to think back about the year that has past and the year yet to come...
I revel in the serenity of the season!
A time for me to hibernate at home and cook game and read book after book.
A time to enjoy the wood I have cut burning in the fire...warming my house and heart.

This year warm weather however has thrown a nix in my seasonal routine!
The snow, try as it may has not yet arrived. This mornings weather is full of fog and rain. 
Making the best of the situation I decided to revisit an old tradition of bringing my daughter to "See Santa" with a modern twist.

A forty minute drive from my house there is a town where Christmas has a different meaning....
An after dark visit to this somewhat bizarre landscape provided for a fun evening!





By day you would never know this environment exists....
All of the inflated hot air fabric sculptures are turned off causing them to collapse flat on the ground and the lights are turned off...but the evening reveals this"magical christmas wonderland"
Complete with a santa who drops his pants!
Ho Ho Ho!

-Martin






Tuesday, 4 December 2012

As tough as old boots!


This post is about boots...
my boots...

I recently wore out a "newly puchased" pair of boots for the bush in less than a year, and that got me wondering what makes one pair of boots better than another for durability...

Boots are in my mind the quintissential utility footware...
Made to be used under harsh conditions people wear them when their enviroment is severe...
I live in boots in the bush which protect my feet from rocks,  stumps on the forest floor, from mud, water,  the elements and also shield my scent from the animals I hunt...

I depend on my boots!

Indispensable, practical, and sometimes even aesthetic in a form follows function sort of way...
Boots have become part of our modern lexicon
associated with phrases like:

get the boot
die in ones boots
you can bet your boots 
and 
as tough as old boots

Old boots in the past have been seen as strong and resilient items.


People that are "as tough as old boots" are said to be the same...

But really when it comes to actual boots some old boots are tougher than others, and these days some old boots are not tough at all!




Here are some of my old boots...
The pair on the left are close to twenty tears old...their treads are slick from wear and up until recently the boots were waterproof.


A good pair of boots should last you a while...especially a pair of boots made for the bush.
The other pair of boots that I am holding in the photo above on the right side of the picture are only one year old but have holes and leak!


I patched these new boots but at only a year old they have proved themselves not up to the rigours of my life in the woods.
"caveat emptor"
(let the buyer beware)
If you want a good pair of boots do some research before you make a purchase.



All these boots in these photos are a "Baffin style" boot.
This is my favourite style of boot to wear in the woods. 
Sort of like a Wellington boot but has wool inserts and a sinchable cuff on top that can keep the snow out when necessary. They are a hardy choice to wear in the outdoors. I wear them year round from the summer to the winter. 
I had a good look at the two pairs of boots you see in the photos above before going out to buy a replacement pair this time around. What made one pair of boots fit to last decades and the other barely able to last a year?
Taking out my Vernier Callipers I soon found that the thickness of rubber in one boot was almost twice the thickness of the other. 
Both pairs at a quick glance look the same but one is made of much sturdier materials than the other. 
My newest pair of boots are made of rubber twice the thickness of my last pair. 
I'm hoping that they will give me the wear I would expect from a product that you would figure is being made to last!


-Martin

























Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Digital mandalas and a trapper from Hay River

In a nutshell..nothing lasts 

(image credit keri smith)

An elaborate and beautiful time consuming artistic construction is created only to be scattered to the wind...
I witnessed this ceremony once in northern India durning an event that lasted days. Slowly a massive artwork was created, by a goup of Tibetan Monks, only to be swept away once done!

Robert Frost the Famous American poet wrote...

“Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”
― Robert Frost

-

Yesterday I was not thinking about impermanence.
Mostly I was thinking about draining Coleman Lanterns for winter storage.
Later in the day I thought I would check in on a YouTube channel I follow...


The site is a collection of video logs created by a young trapper who lives off the land on his own near Hay River in the Canadian Yukon.
I have been meaning to share this site with my readers. 
The videos are honest, sometimes graphic depictions of life on the trapline and living in the woods.
I can speak for its truth because I have lived it myself.
Not only do I find the content interesting because of the unscripted reality but the way these videos are put together is fascinating to me in that nobody ever sent this fellow to journalism or film school...its apparent that he just figured it out on his own...
I don't know much about the sites creator Andrew so I thought I would do some research and see what I could find...
After a little looking around I found an interesting article that CBC radio did on him

The YouTube Trapper and The Idea of Digital Impermanence
Aside from learning a bit more about Andrews background from listening to this podcast
it was interesting to hear that his intention behind making his videos is to pass on knowledge about what he does...about living off the land and some of his traditions...
Jason Scott, archivist, technology historian and filmmaker comments in the 
interview about Andrews intentions but also about the medium being used to archive it.
What came out surprised me! 
Worth a listen I encourage you to enjoy Andrews posts now in the present (as well as mine) because the future of our visual and verbal accounts remains uncertain...
Very much like a sand mandala.... Impermanent...

-Martin

Friday, 19 October 2012

A perfect moment in time

Life can be a challenge at times...
Making a living...fixing the house...relationships and more...
We all have personal strategies to deal with the stress of these challenges.
For me a warm cup of tea, or a walk in the woods can be a tonic to my soul...

Here are some photos of a perfect moment in time earlier this week...
A walk in the woods with my daughter and our dogs!






Joy and inner peace can often be found...unscripted...spontaneous and in the most simple acts
Like in an afternoon walk...


-Martin

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Bush Archeologist

There's lots to do in the bush before the snow falls...but today it was too windy so I found something else to do...

Todays project was an archaeological one...
I decided to excavate the remains of four beaver heads that I buried two years ago in the front garden.  I buried these skulls to let the bugs clean the flesh from their bones so I can prepare them for mounting.
Skulls have such an interesting aesthetic and these beaver heads were ones that I trapped giving them added meaning...

The first order of business was to actually find my buried beaver cache.
I remember having placed them under a rock...but there were a lot of rocks in the garden...
I was starting to feel a bit like a squirrel that misplaced their nuts 45 minutes into my dig when the shovel hit the edge of a skull.


With a little care most of the skulls, jawbones and teeth were located.


Not much to look at initially...


But a scrub in a pail of water and some tooth brushes did a nice job taking off the detritus.





Beautiful natural specimens...
evocative and talismanic

-Martin







Thursday, 11 October 2012

Feeling Fall

Fall is here...
It's getting cold outside and the leaves on many of my trees have turned bright firey red and deep saturated yellow. Many of these leaves have started to fall, and are littering the forest floor.   My daily bush walks with the dogs now have an unreal feeling in this new colourful landscape.
As the days get shorter the light in the forest is changing too and suddenly there seems to be more noticable depth to the bush as I scan it.
Thoughts of hunting excite the blood,  triggered in part by these seasonal changes. 


People that have experienced the hunt will know what I mean...
The hunt can be many things...
Visceral, Vital...beautiful....


It did me!

-Martin




Sunday, 7 October 2012

Still Here!

It's been a long time since I posted but I'm still here !

Why the silence?
I guess I have read a lot of blogs that post continually just for the sake of generating more content even if they are too busy to put some thought into their writing or just have nothing to say.
I have thought about this and would like to be as mindful and true as I possibly can to my readership.

-

....Yes I have been busy...

Whats been going on?
The pile of wood I have been working on that you have seen in past posts has gone from huge to something that you can see from space!
 Now most of the cut and split wood is stacked and seasoning.



There is still tons of wood to cut in the bush from trees that fell in the storm but finally I am starting to make some noticable headway on my clean up project and have made a few years worth of wood to burn as well.

Moose hunting has come and gone. 



My effort to shoot a moose with traditional archery equipment still continues...
There were two close calls with a moose this year within 30 yards of me in thick cover but no shot opportunities. 
I am still eager to take a moose with a wood bow...
A quote by Dr. Saxton Pope made in 1923 on the subject of fair chase encapsulates my feelings...
"The true hunter counts his achievement in proportion to the effort involved and the fairness of the sport"

And finally something I have not spoken much about so far in my blog...Trapping.
I have been reluctant in the past to post about trapping because of the great stigma that this heritage practice suffers from do to misunderstanding and prejudice.
I am a trapper and yes I have been out trapping.


Some friends called me after I got home from Moose hunting with a beaver problem that needed some attention.
It's been a full week of cuting trails, setting traps, and pelting beavers...
-
I see this blog as an ongoing doccumentary of my life...

Life is about the hunt in so many ways!

-Martin



Saturday, 21 July 2012

Universal wisdom?


Knowledge can come in all shapes and forms.
And sometimes it can come from the oddest of places too!


Here is some yard sale wisdom for your consideration...


"Live long and prosper"

and try to have a laugh along the way!

-Martin

Friday, 13 July 2012

Flashlight Friday

Its Flashlight Friday again!

Here is an Art Deco Rayovac two cell that is new to my collection...
(It was a yard sale find )
This beguiling light has a black and gold wood pattern printed onto it with copper accents.
The light was made circa 1935, with a slide and flash button and a cloud logo. 






-Martin


Thursday, 12 July 2012

New arrows...

The date on the tube he mailed them to me in is marked November 2010...
Ten bare arrow shafts my good friend Cap couldn't use himself,
(I forget why...)
so he mailed them to me...



New arrows  to build for my new bow!


......


Fast forward to the present, over two years from when I got them and Im long due to make up these new arrows!

These bare shafts however are just part of the puzzle that needs to be assembled.
  Arrows need feathers, nocks and other hardware too... 


Before I can proceed some calculations have to be made...
Any arrow cant be shot from any bow...

The stiffness of the arrow shafts (spine)  needs to relate to the draw weight of the bow, the draw length that the arrow will be drawn to and the weight of the arrow head that the shaft will deliver to the target 

Because these shafts are not exactly suited to the bow I will shoot them with, adjustments have to be made...
The shafts have to have weight added to both ends and a nock adaptor needs to be added to each shaft to change my nocks to a size larger than would normally be used so they can accommodate my traditional Flemish twist string...

Emails to friends for advice on some finer points of arrow construction fly across the internet...

Supplies are gathered and ...


Ready to begin...

First nock adaptors and nocks are applied and weight tube inserts are hot glued with a bunsen burner...
Next feathers are attached...


My fletching jig will  hold feathers to arrow shaft with a magnetic clamp while glue dries...


A clamped feather with glue sets up on the arrow shaft...


Three feathers are applied to each shaft in sequence...


And when dry...
A completed arrow!

(note the helical curve the clamp has formed on each feather vane
This will help feathers spin during flight for increased stability and improved accuracy)


Arrows in quiver attached to bow...



A full quiver waiting for the hunt!
9 weeks and counting to the moose hunt!

-Martin

Monday, 9 July 2012

Just a reminder



Here is a reminder...
Actually,  potentially here are 48 reminders set 5 minutes apart in a 12 hour time span...

This is my 
James 
"Remind-O-Timer"
that I recently discovered at a yard sale.



Designed by a cab driver in San Francisco to remind him when to pick up a number of regular fares.
 This clock mechanism has been a long time hotel favourite, used for "reminding" front desk staff about  customer wake up calls...
Train stations used them to warn riders of departures and industry used them to let workers know when to go to lunch and when to get back to work...

Slide any of the 48 pins ,that surround the clock face, into position and the clock will buzz when that time is reached. Its an elaborate alarm clock capable of multiple reminders throughout the day or night. You can also plug a much louder bell into the back of the clock which will ring on time as well.

I don't know if hotels still use these clocks...
My guess is no...I would figure that they have long since switched to digital technologies like most of the planet...

I am an analog holdout, captivated by machines with moving mechanisms..
Maybe these devices are a comfort to me because I grew up with them, or maybe its my fascination with  their "retro feel"  and their simpler "non disposable" technologies that could be fixed when broken, but
when it comes to time, I like to see it move ...
"around the clock"


-Martin

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Film Review

Its been hot around here...real hot!
Me and the dogs have been having problems sleeping  because its been getting hot in the day and not cooling down at night...
To make this heat wave a bit more bearable I thought I would take a morning off and watch...
A series about the IDITAROD sled dog race in Alaska that was put together for Discovery Channel...
A morning free and a few hours entertainment about a sport taking place in the "cold" of winter..
I drew the blinds in the room and put my two fans on high and then pressed
play...


From the beginning to end this DVD was a surprise...

To begin with its full of barking dogs...

I didn't even consider my own two dogs when I took this DVD out at the library...
Once the story began, I guess it took about an hour for my dogs to finally settle down and stop  trying to pick fights with howling sled dogs on the tv... a bit comical but very distracting too.
Both dogs eventually realized that a nap in the basement might be a better way to spend the morning and it was at this point that I started to really enjoy this documentary...

-

I knew the IDITAROD was a gruelling sled dog race held in the north but didn't know much more about it before viewing the series...
Taking place in Alaska this race is over a thousand miles long and takes days  of almost constant travel to complete. 
Contestants have taken from nine days to over  twenty to complete it and the weather can vary from above freezing down to below minus sixty degrees fahrenheit!
The series featured some really interesting, sometimes colourfully eccentric characters competing:
A father and son,  a breast cancer survivor, a throat cancer survivor, a diabetic just to mention a few.
Some "mushers" are experienced, having run the Iditarod before while others are  first timers...
The year that this film was made 95 mushers ran the race...many drop out along the way... 

Run day and night the mushers work their sled dogs to their limits and challenge themselves to survive what the dvd box claims is 
the 
"toughest race in the world"

For the most experienced mushers the race is to be the "first to finish" while for many of the rest the race becomes a personal journey to succeed by completing the course and meeting numerous challenges that they encounter along the way ...
Its sometimes hard to watch contestants that have to drop out...and the finale has a very interesting twist which Im not going to give away.

I know whats its like to survive in the bush...

I was fascinated to watch contestants competing in this race and how they problem solve their circumstances for their own survival...

Much of the footage in the documentary is from cameras attached to sleds that record actual race footage that is very "real"...

Not only is the story of the competitors told but that of the organizers and volunteer participants too.
I thought the series was great and have to admit to watching the entire 4 hours and 16 minutes from end to end!

A very "cool" documentary that will leave you inspired...I think its well worth the watch!


-Martin




Friday, 6 July 2012

Flashlight Friday

The other day Caren of tea & chickadees came over for a visit and brought me this wonderful gift that she found at an estate sale!


Its a Rayovac Sportsman two cell complete with D ring...



What a vintage beauty!
Thanks Caren...

-Martin




Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Morning Reflection

I had a moment the other night, after a hard days work in the woods, to do some surfing on the net...
Usually I start by checking out some of my favourite sites...
A while ago I found a wonderful blog called Paleotool that focuses on topics about  "Primitive Technology, Archaeology, and Simple Living"
I enjoy reading about the trailer he has built, his journeys with it and his primitive arrow making, I think we share a similar aesthetic...
Looking through paleotools recent posts I came across a post that he made about another post he saw at a blog called  New Escapologist....
This is the first I have heard of this blog but was piqued to have a look at their site after reading this...

It was a list of things of value...

The following is an excerpt from a list of :
"Things of value" 
 (originally posted on 
New Escapologist ) 

"- optimum health;
- as much free time as possible;
- a few dependable friendships;
- an appreciation of your existing surroundings (which can be enhanced through the basic study of astronomy, botany, architecture, culture, aesthetics, psychology, etc);
- sensual pleasure;
- the confidence to speak your mind in public (and a culture that won’t cause you problems when you do);
- purposeful and purposeless intellectual stimulation;
- a satisfying creative output, in which you have personal pride;
- a clean and dignified living space;
- a modicum of peer recognition;
- some good habits to be proud of;
- few dependencies;
- few secrets.
Not many of these things are commercially available."
What a brilliant list!
How wonderful to discover this new favourite and fascinating blog through another  great favourite of mine!
What would you add to this list?
-Martin


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A new hat for the bush

A good hat for the bush is a simple thing of beauty!
It will shade your head from the sun...
Shield your head from the bugs...
Stay on in a wind...
Keep your head warm in the cold...
and if you get hot...
You should be able to dip it in the river and then wear it wet for comfort...
(the effect caused by the evaporation of  water will cool you down while it dries off)

I like a hat with some provenance and am not adverse to finding one used...
Just such a hat came to me  last week and has now become one of my favourites...


Its an Akubra "Snowy River"
Stockman's hat that is well worn and bush ready...
Made of rabbit fur felt in Australia its already slightly discoloured from the sun...
A hat you don't have to worry about keeping immaculate because its already worn...
Perfect!


Yesterday I stuck a couple of feathers on the band that I recently found while out walking the dogs...


Until I need it next I will hang it on a chair post like this other well worn hat of mine...


Do you have a favourite old hat of your own?

-Martin