American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Woods Hands

I'm finally getting my woods hands back.

I spent yesterday working outdoors for the better part of the day. We had a party at the house last night and I needed to clean up snow, ice, and debris for hours.

Part of my strategy involved building a fire and melting the snow and ice. That worked for a while until the snow overtook the heat of the fire and put out the flames. I tried again using some Coleman fuel as an accelerant and the fire really took off. I then kept feeding and stoking that fire until I had finished clearing a path through the ice.

Handling coals and working around a campfire will toughen your hands and probably leave you with your skin less intact than before starting the firebuilding process. I know I went in with knuckles on all ten fingers and have fewer today. I am also feeling quite arthritic in my left side today. The hand, elbow, and shoulder on that side are all stiff and sore from the effort.

Still, the smell of the woodsmoke, the heat of the fire, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with every successful fire far outweighs the pain and discomfort of a hard effort.

Even after two showers and multiple handwashing sessions my fingernails are still a bit dirty looking and there are those discolored spots on my fingers from handling coals that looked cool to the touch--they weren't.

I'll bet Ray Mears doesn't have perfect skin on his hands either. He's assuredly got woods hands.

Thanks for reading,



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