Friday, January 15, 2016

Fire Starter

The older I get, the more I am interested in learning about things that didn't even register for me when I was even 40.

Growing up, I was interested in shooting, hunting and archery. I put time into these pursuits and got a lot of pleasure from them. In my twenties, a friend of mine got me interested in rock climbing and riding motorcycles, and I explored these hobbies with equal gusto. Then my time and energy was taken over with learning how to be a husband and father. That was plenty to keep me busy for most of my 30's.

As I got closer to 40, an old interest started to take over my thoughts. I had always wanted to be a writer. My goal was not particularly lofty. I wanted to be good enough to write a story that people would enjoy. I had no idea how much work would be required to get to that point but I did reach it and it was good. Like all the other skills I've picked up over the years, writing ability does when not used.

Now that I'm looking at 50, I find myself wanting to keep up with skills and not let them degrade and I don't have a lot of interesting picking up new ones. The shift has been less around new skills and more around new knowledge and capabilities.

Most of my friends and family found it odd that I wanted to learn how to make mead when I don't drink. I found the process of fermentation interesting years ago and just never pursued it, but last year I did and made a batch of mead. It was fun, interesting and satisfying. Now I know how and I'm sure if I continued to pursue it, I would get better, but my wife doesn't care for it and she would be my primary customer.

Recently, I've become obsessed with making fire. Not starting fires, I'm not a firebug, just the process of being able to make fire with primitive means. I'm not alone. There are several websites specializing in all kinds of primitive skills. There are also many YouTube channels dedicated to survival that include making fires and I learned a lot by watching them.

My journey is not over, but I have had a good time making fire kits for friends, family and myself. I chose the flint and steel method and put together all the necessary bits in leather pouches. If I was more dedicated, I would go out back and collect the deadfall and kindling and make a fire now, but this is Minnesota and I would rather not go through that in sub zero weather. True, that's when you need to be able to make fire the most, but I think I'll start in the spring and work my way up to winter survival.

I'm not sure what I'll pursue next, but I think it may be a new angle on an older and favorite hobby. I've loved archery since I was around 8, and I've starting to watch videos on primitive methods for making bows, strings and arrows. Who and I kidding, it's only a matter of time and that time is after winter.


  1. I love my fire-starter kit. I have not used it yet, but it's somehow comforting to know I have it - because you created it, but also to know I now have both an ancient site for pure water and the means to make fire. I'm all set for "the end of days." Thank you, Scott. I slso love the legacy you are psssing on to the girls. They will always be more innovative people because you and Carin are creative thinkers.

  2. I completely understand. I became obsessed with safety razors and aftershaves last year. Now I'm starting to get a taste for colognes, something I would have laughed at ten years ago. It's funny how your interests and hobbies change and lead you in new directions, but you're getting wiser. Not too many people can make fire using primitive means, not even many of the contestants on Survivor.