Return to the Forest

Pete picks me up from the station and we catch up on the past few days over a cheesless pizza in the cafe opposite.

It’s nice to be back. The frozen lake and snow-covered pine trees are even more beautiful now that my lungs are functioning properly. The temperature has risen slightly too, all the way up to -7. It’s practically bikini weather!

M's Shelter

M has disappeared for a few days, meaning we can sleep in his shelter. There are less people now and with the warmer temperature, people are happier to sleep in the tipi. Pete and I somehow get M’s shelter to ourselves for a night. What luxury!

While I was gone, two Swedish guys appeared.

One is a scout leader, the other a gas station attendant.

What a couple of nutters!

They don’t know anyone who lives here, but found the gathering while searching the internet.

They emailed Ed, who politely replied with the details. Unbelievably,

they’re camping in a small dome-tent just behind Ed’s shelter. Each morning they get up early and jog around the frozen lake before breakfast. They teach us how to make bread using only a frying pan, a plastic bag, flour, water and salt.

My second day back, on Pete’s request, Ed gives us a bow-drill workshop. It’s an ancient way to make fire, without matches or lighter. It’s tricky, but the Swedish campers both pick it up straight away. My efforts are useless – I can barely even hold the bow properly. Pete nearly makes fire happen with a piece of wood he’s carving himself. He’s blowing on the ember between two pieces of wood as instructed, but it ends up going out. What happened? “Hang on, let me see that piece of wood…” Ed grabs the top piece that Pete was holding, which on closed inspection turns out to be… a charred banana! Ahhh…the old banana problem, happens to everyone the first time!

Back in Ed’s shelter, the remaning seven of us sit around telling stories and collectively cooking up a big curry. Humour ensues as several people take turns to try to chop a piece of wood for the fire inside the shelter as nobody wants to go and retrieve the big axe from the tipi several minutes walk away. It reminds me of when I used to get stoned and we would sit for hours thinking up ways to make tea without getting up. Ed kneels sweating by the fire in his longjohns, trying and failing to chop a particularly hard bit with a tiny axe. We all fall about in hysterics. It’s a lovely evening, but by the end of it, even Ed ‘s had enough of being overcrowded in his humble home. Time to move on, we think. I have had two more days in the forest and Pete has had eight in total. Time to move south and warm up a bit!

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