Tuesday, December 04, 2007


My hike by the river drew together two separate events in my life.

When my family made cattail dolls a while back, my friend Steve gifted me with an amazing bow and drill set. He personally crafted the bow from a hardwood walnut, inlaid with another light colored wood. The handle was also made of wood, with an inlaid bear design. It was quite spectacular, to say the least.

For those who may not know, a bow and drill is a traditional method of lighting fire without matches. Essentially, a person twists a spindle into the strong of a bow, and spins it against a board until the friction produces a live ember. The person then places the coal into a bundle of tinder.

I once made my own bow and drill set when we visited Anthony at Anasazi. Unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced it.

After he gave me the bow, I resolved to collect my own tinder and build a sacred fire. This morning during my hike, I found the stump of a dead cottonwood tree and carefully pulled back the thick outer layer. Underneath the outer bark is a thin layer of papery fibers that make an excellent tinder when dried. In keeping with my traditions, I sang for the tree and then removed enough fibers to create a bundle of tinder. I wrapped the fibers in a white handkerchief and carried them home. It was such a simple act, but once again, I felt so close to nature and the spirits. I feel these simple tasks are sacred work.

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