Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Primitive living... Saskatoon Circle

It's October 1st, and I just drove through snow, cranking the heater in the truck full blast, sniveling back tears, alternately shoving chocolate and immune support tincture into my mouth. Why, do you ask, did this happen? Here's the story.
The snow occurred on top of Washington Pass, which I had to cross in order to drive home from the East side of the mountains, where my family and I spent a few days camping at the Saskatoon Circle, a primitive skills gathering focused on re-connecting to the Earth and each other. Steve had left Saturday morning, two days before the rest of us, since he was the bow making instructor and had to be at the gathering early, which left me with the kids and the task of attending and selling my wares at the Marblemount Market and packing for the gathering. By the time I left directly after the market around 4pm on Sunday, with the prospect of maneuvering the RV over a mountain pass close to dark, I was already quite frazzled and burnt out.
After a three hour drive, we got to the Saskatoon circle just as dinner there was over and it started to rain. We reconnected with Steve, heated up some canned soup and got a hungry and tired Eva calmed down. The temperature dove quickly, and we spent the night in our RV without heat (there were no hookups and no generators allowed) and woke up to a frost.
In the morning, we walked down to the meadow, where all the teaching and gathering happens, and where all 160 attendees huddled around a gigantic fire. I was immediately struck by the beauty of the place. It's a big valley with a huge meadow of swaying grass, rolling hills and a big sky. Tepees and people dressed in buckskins and furs added to the romantic feel of the scene.

This is the backdrop for Steve's bow making classes.
Steve is teaching a kid how to make a bow.
The next couple of days were a combination of bliss and challenge for me. I loved the beautiful land, community, respect, and love for the earth that everyone exuded. I loved the skills people shared: tanning hides, making tools, weaving, working with leather, pine needle and willow basket making, friction fire, butchering and processing, making clothes with leather, felting, edible and medical plant walks, and so much more. I loved the healthy food that was served. I loved the big, roaring fire pit. Watching the children play and run wild in the meadow made me very happy.  I am excited about all of the new people we met and connections that were made.

Lukas shoots bows with his new friend.
People scraping deer hides.
People working together to stretch a hide.
A teacher explains about felting.

The cold, though? The rain? The flu-like symptoms Eva and I dealt with? Ackckck!!! I shivered for the whole two and a half days. My bones felt cold the whole time, and no matter how much hot tea I drank, how many wool hats I wore, or how close I huddled to the fire, I never really got warm.  Except maybe for two hours one afternoon, when the sun came out, and I sat in the meadow, spinning yarn on my spinning wheel. All the pictures I took were taken when the sun came out for a couple of hours.

Lindsay and me - soul mates!
I couldn't really take advantage of taking classes because I had to take care of my high-maintenance three-year-old Eva, except one class: My best friend Lindsay taught a pine needle basket workshop, and I made a beautiful basket I am very proud of.  What a great teacher and mentor she is!  And how luck I am to count her as my soul sister!

Lindsay with her pine needle baskets and hats.

I hardly ever saw Kai and Lukas. They either participated in the awesome kids' program, or ran wild with their new home schooled friends. All of the parents seemed very comfortable with letting their kids throw knives and roam free barefoot. Can you imagine my Type A German personality trying to flow with it all? I dressed my kids in hats, boots and jackets, and they kept complaining to me for doing this to them, when their friends got to run barefoot in the frosty grass. And while many people wore their own buck skin and fur clothing, many seemed incredibly underdressed to my snively, snotty, sick self.

The kids' program - playing lots of games...
... running in the meadow....
... and riding on the donkey...
And this is why I broke down today, when I woke up in a freezing RV after not having slept well at all, listening to my and Lukas' coughing, trying to sit by the main fire in the rain later on, while Steve taught his class. But Eva was bored and wanted to go back into the freezing RV. So as I sat there, watching my breath come out in a foggy cloud in between sneezes, I realized I am not as tough as I thought I am. I was starting to not have fun at all, and I wanted to be at home in front of my wood stove, sleep in my own bed, eat food I cooked in my own (warm) kitchen. I couldn't take any of the wonderful classes because of a whining Eva, I was sick, and I had enough. So I tearfully found Steve and told him that I wanted to leave, and he (as usual) supported me in whatever I needed.  He kept the kids with him and will join me later tonight, here in our own home, with soup bubbling, and the wood stove cranking.
So this is how come I drove over the pass in the snow, crying, inhaling chocolate (one form of medicine) and immune tincture (another form of medicine).

What it comes down to is this:  When I first left Saskatoon Circle, I felt like a failure, because all the other (cooler and tougher than me) people seemed to be having fun, walking the talk, living lightly on the earth.  But then I realized that I am doing this, too, just in a different way.  I don't walk around in buck skins, hunt my own meat with bow and arrow and stone tools and such, but I also honor the earth in my own way: by tending it, growing food in it responsibly, nurturing the animals on it, and teaching other people how to live more self sufficiently.
I just wish I could grow chocolate.


  1. when you discover the elusive dark chocolate bar tree let me know!

    1. Kai, yes, I will. In fact, when I discover this elusive dark chocolate bar tree, I will spread its seeds all over the region, so that I can have chocolate wherever I go (and you can too!). How are you doing???

  2. You are a bad ass like it or not my dear...if you wanted to you could adorn your whole family, the goats, neighbors and Pluto with just so happens you do that with wool& cheese:) love u!

    1. Ha! Lindsay, you are so funny! Did everyone read it? I AM a badass afterall! Phew! And she knows, she is my best friend!
      I love you too!

  3. I came across your blog after finding your etsy site this morning. What beautiful insights and honesty you share. A rare quality in today's world. I am thankful to have found you. Just what I needed as we let go of our urban farm in Burien and now reside on a tiny rental lot in Seattle while our youngest son attends college. Feeling hopeful and encouraged! Blessings on your day!

    1. Joanie, how sweet of you to take the time to respond to this post. I am so happy that you are feeling hopeful and inspired reading it! May you find peace in your new living situation - and maybe some tiny spaces to cram it some containers where you can grow lettuce or something!
      Many blessings!


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