Primitive Technology Weekend: Miranda’s Account

It certainly is a long time coming, but it is finally here.

The first week of May brought us many interesting experiences, including foraging and a weekend at Oregon Ridge Nature Center to participate in their Primitive Technology Weekend event.

We arrived on Friday afternoon and quickly set up camp. Experience has taught us that the sooner camp is set, the less stress we would have later in the day, such as when the sun goes down and the temperature drops. Ben started a fire with little to no problems and did such a good job that we had a cooking fire within the first hour and a half. My job was to set up our temporary housing and I did it in record time, for me at least. Ironic, as the day we left I broke down our shelter and I joked to Ben that I was both the home-maker and the home-wrecker. It was just as not funny then as it is now!

The next day brought us demonstrations and talks with some of the experts of Primitive Technology, as well as an unexpected meeting with a friend: Ming. First on the agenda was bark-basket making. The idea is to peel off the park from a tree, carefully, and bend it and sew it to make a basket or a very unique handbag. Next up was Blowgun making. A very interesting, and I'm sure useful, skill to have, and a tedious one as well. To start with you need a River Cane, something similar to bamboo. In order to ensure you shoot straight, every piece of the cane must be straightened. It sounds easy, but it is a process that technically should take around four hours, but since we were on a schedule, we rushed through in two. To straighten the cane, it first must be heated up to the point of not being able to touch it. It becomes more pliable that way. Then you begin to bend it, carefully, as suddenly it is much easier to break. Once the cane is straight, it needs to be hollowed out. Not an altogether easy process either, but certainly easier. Next up is the actual dart making. We used thistle for the ends of the dart to make it fly easier, much like feathers are used on arrows. Once the process was complete, it was time for target practice. Ben amused himself greatly by knocking the tops off of Dandelions repeatedly. His aim was incredibly precise and became more so as the weekend went on.

Later in the day we attended an incredibly interesting presentation on flint knapping and history. I wish at this point that I had remembered more of it.

The following day had us watching in awe the expert flint knappers at work, more target practice with the blowgun, and archery. Ben and I set up a mini competition against each other on the blowgun, something that made quite a few people watch, in fascination or amusement. At the end of the day it was time for archery, something we both had been wanting to do since we got there. Target practice. A site was set up with fake animals, balloons, and a tennis ball dangling in the air, swaying with the wind. Having been quite fond of archery when I was younger, I was thrilled to be doing it again, though I had forgotten some the finer points of the skill. The highlight of this experience would have been the hitting of the tennis ball for me, a total of 5 times, two of those times being when the tennis ball was swinging back and forth from the last time I had hit it. For Ben, I'm sure it would have been the time he hit the boar's eye after aiming for that exact spot.

We talk from time to time about increasing our "hard core" level. The weekend of this event certainly increased that level, as did the foraging experience days before.

The next event like this that we are attending will be the Maps Meet at the Catoctin Quaker Camp.

– Miranda Vivian 

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