Tuesday, April 9, 2013

NHVSP Update 9

Hello interested people, and welcome to a new chapter in updating history, written by a new writer, yours truly, so buckle up for a wild ride of literary twists and turns. As with new beginnings we’ve had plenty in the week prior to the arrival of the parents. Before everyone arrived we all received our new big job assignments, for the lineup we’ve got:
Elliot on Kitchen Wizard and Naturalist
Wayland on Seamster and Culture Keeper: Baker/Yogurt Maker
Kenya on Boat and Camp Manager
Angus on HyGenie and Medic
Lotte on Base Camp Food Manager and Wild Foods Forager or W.F.F. for short
Max on Writer and Hide Tanner
Noah on Trail Food Manager
Sam on Bike Repair and “Fitness Fun-stigator” like instigator, but with fitness related jazz
And last but not least Kerensa on Navigator and List Master General, also called Logistics
     So far we’ve launched into them pretty fairly, we’ve got a deer hide for tanning already going, the route being planned for boating and biking and food is already flying in a bustle around the kitchen, waiting to be packed. List making is already running high into it’s prime of life, with a list for what looks like just about everything, from personal gear to the camps we’re going to.
     Aside from big jobs we had some craft making in the days leading up to parent day with our good friend, Chris Knapp. He joined us out from his fortress of fun in Temple, Maine to make pack-baskets; the long sought-after project semester has been waiting to do. This was a pretty laborious task involving a lot of foresight and careful planning, but it was all well worth it to see our hard work turn to beautifully woven baskets.
The process starts with harvesting your brown ash tree, which we did in a local swamp across the Clyde River down the road from NorthWoods. We did this all pretty thoughtfully, thinking about which tree wasn’t doing so hot, and taking it out to help the other healthier ones grow better. After felling it, we bucked it up into several manageable logs, and hauled it back to base. You spend an awful lot of time then scoring the log with knives and pounding off the growth rings in floorboard-sized straight sections with a three-pound hammer. It’s hard to get a good visual of this, but to sum it up, we cut the round growth rings into roughly straight sixths around the circumference of the log and then when you pound the log on those sections, they peel off flat. As a whole we did this for two days, and got quite a bit of “wood splints,” as they’re called. Once we had our desired amount we called the operation to a new phase, which was cutting up the splints to size and width wanted, which was pretty quick business. After the splitting of the splints, we made our baseboards and straps for the baskets, and began weaving, which was the bulk of the work, and where the baskets began to take shape. We wove for about a day and a half and finished the day parents arrived, and they were beautiful for the showing, just in time!
Nathan, Hanah and Misha showed up on Saturday after their Canadian ski trip up north with a school class. They brought us food and although Misha left, Nathan and Hanah stayed to give us a communications workshop, in which we said some much needed truths to one another. An old Kroka friend, Pasha, came to teach us about the making of dry bags, which look like big rubbery envelopes now that they’re done.
We also visited Sterling College on Wednesday, down south of here in Craftsbury Common, where we gave our presentation and were lucky enough to get two treats; dinner made for us and a lecture hearing Sandor Katz speak, who is a semi-famous fermentation specialist. He gave a talk about the fermentation process of many foods, including sauerkraut, yogurt and kimchee. Sterling was a real interesting place to see since it’s a fair jumping off point after Kroka for some people looking to do the same things, like agriculture and natural history.
     Parent visit rolled around Friday afternoon, with everyone looking happy and nostalgic to see their families and friends, and we thank all the family and friends for coming out to see us, for feeding us delicious treats, and listening to all our stories.
 After all the folks left and all was said and done with the winter expedition, which came to it’s close in the performance, Emily’s parents, Robert and Jennifer, brought us some roosters to put down for food. It wasn’t a real somber experience because there wasn’t too much to be sad about, we didn’t dwell on the fact that we were putting down an animal, but that it was becoming yet another part in the circle of life, and so we thanked them and processed the animals well, with nobody looking too squeamish at all. Jennifer taught us how to pluck and gut the chickens, and showed around the inner workings of the rooster. That night we had venison and fresh chicken for dinner, and the leftovers of the parent potluck lunch that day, and we all went to bed satisfied on the memories and joys of the week.
We’re scheduled for rain though for the next few days and although it puts a grey-slated light on the area and makes everything damp, it still stands as a true sign of spring. The birds sing in the early pre-dawn grey at five in the morning without fear of freezing to death now that it doesn’t snow, and in a place before waking up, laying in the tent, somewhere off in the hazy unconscious of sleep you here the patter or rain on the roof of the tent fly and can feel no feeling but life itself, a nameless state of rest and waiting patience. But we all take the weather with a grain of salt and don’t dwell to much on how wet it is and expect better, sunnier times in the near future, with dreams of spring on all our minds.

Gratitude to all our families for coming and sharing wonderful food       and stories.

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