Waking naturally before light pierces through bedroom curtains does not happen often. On mornings when a full day of work awaits, the alarm clock has a hard time pulling me from the netherworld. When at last I do recognize the persistent buzzing and chirping, after I distinguish the sound from that which is emanating from some found object in my dream, my first physical reaction is to pull the covers up over my head, and pretend I don't hear it, pretend I am still dreaming. That feeling you get on Sundays, when by mistake you forget and set your alarm the night before, and when you finally do answer the alarm clock's call, you realize it's Sunday, and you can sleep in-- I always hope it's one of those mornings. But more times than not, it isn't. They're are some mornings, though, when I somehow gain consciousness, like I've been given a shot in the arm. On those mornings, I throw back the covers and get to my feet, put on a pot of coffee, and gather my things. It's on these mornings, when the fish are rising in some far off stream or lake, or a trail leading beyond the reach of phone signal beckons to me, that I rise and perform this sacred morning ritual.
In my library, I have several books on foraging and survival skills. One of my favorites is Camping and Woodcraft by Horace Kephart. There are many guides of edible and medicinal plants, water purification, and magazine articles on shelter building skills. But having all of this information at my fingertips doesn't do me any good if I don't get my hands dirty from time to time, practicing these skills. Not only does it make me feel more confident in the woods, but it is a lot of fun, too. I would like to think that if I had to, I could survive and provide for my family from the woods and waters around here. I could probably kill plenty of squirrels or catch enough fish to feed us for a little while, but it would be a full time job, especially with a wife and kids. On The Fourth of July, though, I witnessed something that gave me a whole new perspective on survival-- actually watching someone having to forage for food on the streets of Greenville. This is what I like to call A