Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
Wild Wanderings Blog – May 3, 2012
Hello fellow “Farm Dreamers” and all like-minded souls of course:)) The farm, where I currently reside, is teeming with life. Baby lambs, goats and calves have blessed this beautiful Spring as well as numerous baby chicks! I’m really enjoying the marriage and wisdom in joining the domestic and wild (survival skills). Self-reliance is all encompassing and multifaceted indeed. As new crops are being planted weekly, the wild edibles of Spring are certainly welcomed and being utilized around here. Honestly, because of this abundance, sometimes I wonder if wild-crafting should be more of our focus as a collective mindset. “Food for thought”…or rather…”food for free”perhaps?
In my previous Blog, I focused on our five major senses with vision clearly being our most dominant. Just the science behind how our eyes work is a lifetime study in itself. For simplicity, I’d like to expand briefly upon last week’s discussion and introduce you to some key elements of that equation. Without getting too technical, we use our vision in two ways mostly…focused (tunneled) and peripheral, consciously and unconsciously. In fact most of us are capable of receiving visual stimulus at a range of about 180 degrees laterally. Meaning, this is what we as humans are theoretically able to download in any given moment. But, how much of this is conscious perception? Honestly I think, with numerous distractions such as TV, “so called” smart phones and a seemingly endless barrage of electronic stimulus…not much. They condition us to take small pictures and view life through narrow windows. These modern conveniences are definitely not conducive to us being more aware in Nature or life in general for that matter. Do you see where this awareness directly ties into Wilderness Survival? I hope you do. Our senses are key to all of our experiencing…not only on a physical level.
Our sense of hearing is most notably next on our list. What we hear and what we see work very closely together indeed. Often, we see what we are drawn to by our sense of sound. Our senses of smell, touch and taste are almost always distant players in this relationship. But does that make them lesser? Hardly! I contend that we don’t utilize them to their full advantage. Animals like deer and dogs have a much more heightened sense of hearing than we do. Does that mean their hearing is more developed? Not necessarily. The main reason they hear so well is the fact that their ears are bigger than ours. They use them like satellite dishes to scrutinize everything in their immediate surroundings and beyond. The fact that they can use them independently of one another doesn’t hurt either. By simply cupping our hands behind our ears we can increase the surface area of our ears and greatly enhance our ability to identify and locate sounds. Don’t believe me? The next time you’re standing in the back of a crowded room listening to a speaker, try it! You’ll be amazed at the difference in clarity. In a wilderness setting this might help you locate water or alert you to a potentially dangerous encounter, such as a bear in your nearby vicinity.
Our sense of smell is highly under-utilized. Once again size plays a role here. Deer, dogs and bear have an acute sense of smell for a few reasons. Their long noses mean they have more receptor sites capable of picking up even the slightest odor. The second reason is obvious…their lives depend on it! I would bet that our ancestors utilized their sense of smell much more efficiently than we do today for the same reason. They weren’t necessarily on the top of the food chain back then. So, how can we develop our sense of smell, you might ask? Here’s a fun exercise that I teach my students. The next time you pick up a passing fragrance, of perhaps a flower, try to locate it! Seriously, too often we acknowledge things we smell, but seldom do we take the time to discover the source. Also, instead of taking long sniffs (which we normally do), take short quick ones. Animals do this. It allows them to gather more information in a shorter period of time. Watch your dog for a few minutes…you’ll see what I mean.
I’m sure you’d all agree that touch is an amazing thing. Our skin is a huge sensory organ, in fact our largest organ. Humans not only enjoy touching, we actually crave it. It’s been proven that babies will actually die without it. This has been observed with premature infants in incubators. I don’t think that we as adults are any different. Aside from shaking a stranger’s hand, we’re taught that touching is kind of a taboo…invading someone’s personal space. There are also the possible sexual implications too, but that’s not what I’m focusing on here. Different cultures clearly have different boundaries in regard to touching. This is a bit off topic, but I wonder sometimes how many relationships could have been salvaged by simply holding hands more often. Last week I mentioned that closing your eyes while exploring the bark of a tree creates a different experience for most. Even the most familiar things in Nature feel quite different with your eyes closed. Give it a try…you just might like it!
Lastly, our sense of taste needs to be addressed. Everyone loves a good meal! Have you ever noticed that some of the best meals we’ve ever eaten seem to engage all of our taste buds? Most of the things we eat only touch on a few and that’s usually in the form of salt or sugar. Wild foods are definitely more complex than our domestic counterparts. They have more energy too. The difference between a bite of iceberg lettuce followed by a dandelion leaf will prove this to you quite easily. I literally get goosebumps every time I eat dandelions. Personally, I believe it’s my body affirming that it’s good for me and I should eat more of them. If you pay attention your body will tell you what it needs. Incorporating wild edibles into your current meals will have a profound impact on your health. Remember, food is medicine!
Without our senses, it’s clear that life wouldn’t be the same. Learning to engage all of our senses simply makes life more fun. “What if we as humans are only able to experience our highest level of awareness when all of our senses are engaged at the same time?” Hmmm…food for thought:))…
As always, I welcome your thoughts and input. Please consider joining a group I started called “Traditional / Primitive Living Skills” and I do encourage you to ask questions and contribute.
Richard Cleveland lives in Asheville, NC. He is the founder and director of Earth School. A self-trained Naturalist, fishing and nature guide, he has taught traditional native skills to thousands of people, of all ages. For info about his programs visit www.LoveTheEarth.com
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