Article by Ian Macfarlane of ‘Do It Outdoors’
It might not look like a typical title to start an article about bushcraft and survival. Hopefully it will become clearer as I write (unlike politics I may add).
I have always been a keen outdoor sportsman, doing fairly typical sports such as mountain biking, hillwalking and canoeing, and thought I knew a fair bit about the countryside until my now wife shattered my ego (as they are prone to do) by pointing out that during all this high activity I was barely able to differentiate the seasons never mind an oak tree from a beech tree.
Being a man I was unable to take this truth lying down and started a quest to learn my trees. We all have passions, trees became mine; this might sound strange but believe me they are interesting. Take the Silver Birch Tree; a pretty cool tree.
Actually yes it is a cool tree only because it has a silvery white bark which enables the tree to regulate its temperature by reflecting the sun’s rays, making it a pioneer of open northern lands. Getting slightly more interesting this tree has in the past been associated with various fertility rituals.
One of which was to allow men and women to pair off and be free of their marriage vows during the pagan festival of Beltane. This must be what people refer to in the saying “the good old days”. But yes you guessed it the church didn’t like that pagan ritual very much and put a stop to it.
Not to despair though as the tree has many more merits specifically relating to the sap which shoots up the tree in early spring. This sap of the tree is said to be a hair restorer when rubbed on a bald head (it probably doesn’t work), also a very healthy drink (with mild anti depressant and blood cleanser properties) that can be taken straight from the tree and it can even be processed in to a rather interesting beverage. The alcoholic drink has been described as “a most brisk and spirituous drink, which is a very powerful opener” – maybe there’s a business here?
Well if you haven’t already noticed that’s me covered the sex and drugs, so what about the last bit, “Rocks in a bowl”, well I just needed something that rhymed. Well actually if you ever wondered how ancient man boiled water for a cup of tea, then there’s a clue.