Thursday, August 25, 2011
"You know, I once read an interesting book which said
that most people lost in the wilds die of shame. Yeah, they die of shame. 'What did I do wrong? How could I have gotten myself into this?' And so they sit there and they die. Because they didn't do the one thing that would save their lives—thinking."
adapted from dialog from The Edge
by David Mamet
So this class is about survival, which perhaps is about more than a set of learned skills. Undeniably, one’s chances of survival can be improved by a passing knowledge of some skills and a modicum of preparedness. Students in this class will practice building shelters, making fire, plant identification, and first aid. They will be taught the importance of material preparedness. But, without mental preparedness one is unlikely to apply the knowledge that one holds.
Which implies a harder but arguably more important goal for the class—to slow these kids down long enough and to keep them quiet enough to see the world through calm eyes and open ears—to take in their surroundings, to begin to understand how the world functions and to find their places in it. In this way, the psychology of survival can apply as much to common daily life choices as it does to the much rarer event of needing to making it out of the wilderness alive in a critical situation.
Oh, and the class is fun....
So there you are—out in the woods—when you feel a rumble in your belly. You don't have any food. Perhaps you're on a day hike. Maybe you are days from "civilization."
By knowing about some wild edible plants you can do something about your hunger with less effort and time than hunting animals or fishing would require.
To this end, you will learn about a selection of edible plants common in the northwest. Your final project will be a booklet that describes ten plants you have learned about, with an illustration, description of where to find them and how to prepare them, and what time of year the food is there. Provide a sample whenever possible.
If you can't find plants that you can identify, you can always use the universal edibility test
to see if a certain yummy-looking plant is edible. But it will take a while. Be patient.
Ignore fungi/mushrooms ENTIRELY in your search. While there are edible mushrooms, a mistake can kill you. Even experts have died by misidentifying wild mushrooms.
Below are some websites that have information about common wild edible plants in our region, including one site that tells of a few to avoid.
A general rule is: When in doubt, don't eat it.
In a REAL emergency you can use the method that I described to you in class to see if the plant can be eaten safely.
DON'T EAT THESE