Rick's Journal

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vote, and then sign up for the Advanced Bird Language Course! Coming May 3-8, 2009

A lot of people think that learning bird language is just memorizing a bunch of bird songs. You know the type of naturalist, who can imitate any bird? (I am secretly jealous of those folks, even as I call them bird nerds!)

Anyway, this isn't that kind of class.

The bird language we are talking about is far more useful, universal and full of information. It is about understanding the mood of the birds. The tones they are using, and how, to be able to inform us about what is going on in the woods that we can't see.

In the summer, the foliage is so thick that it is almost impossible to see deer, coyotes, foxes or bobcats. In these situations, we really need our feathered brothers and sisters to help us get a clue as to what is moving about.

Not only is it cool, it can save someone's life.

Bird language can tell us through concentric rings, when someone is coming up the road, up the trail, with plenty of time to hide if you are alone and it is dangerous. Bird language can tell you if there are predators around, another good thing.

Bird language can also give us ways of moving through the forest where we don't set off the alarms that tell other people or animals, that we are there. Yes, I know! Isn't that cool?!

In other words, the secret of invisibility, true invisibility, is contained in these teachings.

Dan has worked hard for years to get them. He hasn't taught this course since the last time he was here, at Hawk Circle, in 2004. (On the East Coast, that is.) And he is a wealth of knowledge that I would venture to say, one of the top three people who could teach this course. He might be in a class of one. I'm not sure. He's humble and probably wouldn't even cop to that, so whatever. The bottom line is, I don't know where you would go to get an intensive like this.

Have you ever gone to a language course, and 'almost learned how to speak the language?' Yeah, it sucks. You are so close, and then you have to go home and you instantly forget it all. Well, that's why this isn't a short, introductory, weekend course for beginners. It's the real deal. You won't fall between the cracks, and you will actually learn to do this stuff. For real.

And, if you take the time to go out in your own neighborhood, your home, etc, and practice what you learned, then you will soon master the details. And it will change the way you see nature forever.

I use it all of the time. During deer hunting season. On tracking classes. On hikes, gathering or exploring. Or just around the home, to know where my cat is at all times, or my kids, or my students.

I invite you to come and be a part of this program. We are only opening this class up to 20 people, so if you are at all inclined to learn this, well, don't wait to get your application in and deposit. We might not run it again for a few years, and I don't know where else you will go to get this detailed look at a vital skill.

I hate writing the above paragraph, because it sounds like I am pandering to fear, etc. I totally don't want you to feel that way. I am just stating a solid fact about the course, our schedules and ability to bring Dan Gardoqui in for an intensive class, and saying, hey, if you are serious about learning, this is the time to do it.

There's plenty of advance notice. Make the time, find a way, figure it out, whatever. We hope you will join us and if you need to make payments to take the course, you can start now.

There are a lot of people who study wilderness skills, learn to make fire, make a little buckskin, sleep in a shelter a few times and notice a few tracks from time to time. They are great people who are taking their time learning this stuff, and they won't get better anytime soon. It is too slow of a pace for them to really grow and become truly connected to nature and the Earth.

If you want to grow, you have to make the effort. And the payoff is big. It is a sure thing, even. In these financial times, the investment in your own education, your own knowledge, is something you can bank on. Well, on a river bank, I guess!

Hope to see you there! Call or write with any questions and enjoy the exodus of the birds for the warmer climes!


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Moving Past Fear: The Wilderness Survival Metaphor and Current Events

It doesn't take more than reading the front pages or watching the news to figure out that America is in trouble. The financial changes that are coming are going to be tough for a lot of people. A lot of our 'pillars of society' are crumbling and it can seem like our entire way of life will never be the same. But what is interesting is how our country, and even the world, is reacting as if we are all destroyed, and no one has died. Nothing has happened except that the concept of money, which is a societal creation, has changed. It has been exposed as 'the answer to our prayers' and we can't rely on it as our sole source of security and comfort.

As scary as all of this seems, life will move forward, and we will find ways to adjust, and move past the fear. In it's place will be people, working together, finding ways to connect, share and grow.

Some people won't be that lucky, though. The change is going to hit hard and it will take a long time to recover.

Being in these difficult situations isn't really the problem, however.

But the real issue here is the lack of leadership. Leaders can get everyone pointed in the right direction, working together and moving towards a common goal. Even if the direction isn't always the perfect answer, it helps us all to do something, rather than sit and wait. And we can adjust as we go, making small course changes rather than picking a far away goal and then working blindly towards it. Leaders are the people who are still confident that we will thrive and survive, and find a way to get to our goal along the way...

It helps in a crisis, to use the wilderness survival metaphor. In other words, what are our priorities? What are our 'needs'? What are our resources? Who are our allies?

In the wilderness, when you are lost or stuck, you have to do all of the above. You have to let go of your 'wants' and focus on your needs. You have to find shelter, clean water, have heat and food. You prioritize based on the weather, your resources and your family or group.

When you first realize that you are in a survival situation, you should be thankful for what you have, rather than complain about what you don't have. You have to stay positive, mentally, and believe that you will not only survive but thrive, from your experience.

In this financial storm, you should remember that our grandparents and elders survived the Great Depression, and they made sacrifices to get through. They have stories of people who helped and worked together to make their futures and grow through it all. It didn't last forever, and it spawned the greatest period of middle class success and productivity that America has known. (Yes, I know this can be argued everywhichway, but the bottom line is that most of America is not currently living at the same level of free-time, debt-free, leisure and family time of the 40's, 50's and 60's. The disparity of wealth is what it is.)

Survival thinking is not negative. It is about strategy, and trust, and learning skills to make life easier. One of my teachers, Tom Brown, Jr., often said, "If you are struggling in the wilderness, for any reason, it is because, quite simply, that your skills suck." Of course, this quote is both humorous and telling. It applies both to the wilderness and to life in society. Whenever I have been struggling in my work at Hawk Circle, I often think, "What skills do I need to learn or do better, to allow me to get past this struggle?" It works, far better than simply complaining, or looking for someone or something to blame.

I will talk more about these ideas in a few days, but let me know what you think about them, and if they are helpful to you in this time of change. Don't panic, and keep breathing. We are going to get through this, together!