Tracks And Herbs

15th May 2014

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What a glorious time of year this is! The growth of plants is truly amazing. As I write this piece, I think back to when we ran our Medicinal Plants class and how as a group we were truly amazed by the variety of plants that had emerged. It was fascinating for me to see students rediscover plants that they thought they knew so well, but were able to gain a greater, deeper connection with. Native Awareness must take this time to thank our guest instructor Laura Carpenter for her contribution to the class. You can find details of Laura's Medicinal Herbalist Practice by going to her website . Laura has also signed up to a few classes with Native Awareness this year, so on the down time, I'm sure Laura would be happy to talked to you about her plant walks etc.

On our introduction class, Native Skills 1 we remark that many people find it difficult to engage with the plant world due the vast amount of species that we have and that you cannot ‘cram' your knowledge concerning plants. We also point out that by working the skills of survival we have an easy route into learning about plants due to the fact that as a survivalist/primitive technologist we rely on them so much for resources. By working skills, you will in fact know so much more about plants than you realise and subconsciously your knowledge builds. Medicinal plants are another facet to this. Since the Medicinal Plants class, students have remarked that they have been totally transfixed by areas of plants in their local environment, having fun by testing their new herbal knowledge and seeing how many plants that can be used.

The Medicinal Plants class and the April Native Skills 1 was a wonderful way to start our new season but we have many more classes coming up that are filled with amazing skills and knowledge. Our next class is Tracking. I have to say that for me, this is my favourite class to teach and I feel that it is probably the most important class that Native Awareness offers as by learning to track, we open up so much more relating to the other skills that we teach. The eye of the tracker can be used in all the skills of survival, from the precision of your notch in a fire making kit, seeing the evenness of a bend in a bow, to seeing the freshness of a medicinal or edible plant. Tracking isn't just about what we do in the woods though, by learning to track you see and feel everything in such great, almost supernatural detail. After taking a class with us, you will never look at piece of artwork in the same way, each brush stroke will now mean something very different to you.

It's truly amazing how five days can change someone's perception of the world. During this class our goal is to teach the students to be able to see what was first thought to be impossible! We don't spend too much time looking at the clear prints that are left in mud or sand. Those tracks are fascinating but we quickly progress the student on to terrain that most would think would be impossible to track an elephant across, let alone a mouse. If we can teach to track across rock and gravel, think how quickly a student will be able to interpret the tracks that are generously left in the sand and clay!

Another reason that I like teaching this class so much is because every class is different! Of course the core lectures are covered, but the ever changing landscape creates new stories to be unravelled every time an animal moves through it. This is why so many like to retake this class. You can never have enough dirt time!

What to look for in the woods this month: