Chapter 1. Think You’ve Mastered Fire? Make and Use a Bow Drill.

By Wendy Tremayne

While visiting New York’s Berkshire Mountains region last winter I happened upon a crew of girls grounded in Earth knowledge. They study with naturalist Michelle Apland at the Flying Deer Nature Center. The group’s treasure chest of skills includes how to make bone tools, identify plants and insects, build shelter, create a natural spring, distill water, and whip up a bow drill to make fire without a match.

On a below-freezing day in March, the girls and I traversed a frozen pond. Midway across, the sound of cracking froze me in place. A 12-year-old turned her head over her shoulder to assure me that cracking is no sign of weakness in the pond’s ice sheet.

Later, ...

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