In the article, (read it here) I tell the story about our son Luke's solo overnighter in the woods when he was ten years old, equipped only with a sleeping bag (no tent), a fishing pole, a knife and no food. Doing this was his idea, by the way. I love the varied feedback I got from my readers - some admitting to being shocked when they read what we let our kids do, but then realizing how vitally important, yet rare, these kinds of rites of passage are.
I don't want to spoil the story by retelling it here, so I urge you to head on over to "Free Range Child" and read it there.
This week has been filled with excursions to our favorite wild creek, where we cooled off in 85 degree (!) weather. A couple of our friends' kids joined us and watched with fascination as Steve made a friction fire with a bow drill (rubbing two sticks together), no matches and materials he gathered by the river.
Sausage roasting ensued. It struck me that the food we prepared at the river was all homemade: sausages made from the meat of pigs we raised ourselves, cornbread made with eggs from our chickens and milk from our goats, and asparagus from the garden.
Can our lives get any more wholesome or what? Now if we could just grow cacao beans for my chocolate addiction!!!
I did sneak a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream for the adults. Ahem.
Although I love the wild and thrive when I spend time in nature, my husband Steve is the expert. Whereas I'm the one teaching people homesteading skills, he's the one teaching wilderness survival skills: making fire by friction, building primitive shelter, tracking, hide tanning, bow making, archery, wild plant ID and more.
I love that he is such an amazing role model for many of us, but especially for boys. The wilderness is in his blood - he grew up in Papua New Guinnea and has spent his formative years with tribal cultures. He knows how important it is to let our boys push their edges in the wild, and I am grateful for it.
Boys are a little bit of a mystery to me. I grew up with three sisters and no brothers, so I often check in with Steve to see if my sons' behavior is normal.
"Really? They like wrestling each other down to the ground so their head grinds into the sand? Huh."
"Why do they act like I'm asking them to clean out the goat barn when I request that they take a shower once a week?"
"Is it normal that they are constantly eating and acting like they're starving?"
My heart swelled watching my 6'4 gentle man wrestle with our boys and their friend at the creek. My daughter Eva and I sat and watched, amazed that the boys enjoy being pinned underneath each other's arm pits, grateful that we don't have to do this.
Eva and I would rather curl up and read under the cherry tree, hang out in the garden and with our animals.