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In The Footsteps Of Thoreau - 4th January to 27th May 2012

As some will know, I have created a life lost to many, dreamed of by others, lived by a few.

My recent activities have been documented on the thread The Hunter's Chronicles. How I managed to forge this path is recorded in the archives of this blog and in my books 'The Warless Warrior' series.

What I wish to relate to you is another side of my life. A most important part. One explored and written about beautifully by the late, great American literary icon, Henry David Thoreau. I speak specifically of his work "Walden; Or Life In The Woods" and recommend it highly. I also suggest you sample his other essays "Civil Disobedience" and his mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Self Reliance". I believe you will find two astute writers who identified and warned a fledgling society of the hazards ahead that we are encountering and perpetuating over 200 years later.

Relative to Walden, my account will hardly be as eloquent nor as memorable. Try as I might, I simply have not the level of mastery as Thoreau at weaving the words of our language into such a divine tapestry of story, poetry and prose.

What I speak of is the provision of shelter for oneself and/or a family. I do not take this subject lightly. I also do not bow to any false authority no matter how powerful they believe themselves to be.
The seedling seeks not permission before it sprouts into a mighty oak. The rain does not require a license to fall. The wind will not seek our blessing to blow. The birds give no notice of where they wish to site their nest. Whilst these truths remain, and until such evidence is provided that demonstrates that I am not also a creation and being of nature, then I too shall follow her example. As our fore fathers and ancestors did. As I hope, one day, our children shall once again do.

I refute the idea that I must sign up on the banksters contract to a lifetime of servitude, in order that I may outsource the creation of my shelter to another. The result, most often being a box that is most unsatisfactory. One that does not reflect my heart, much less the soul of its creator.
I am able. I am willing. And, more importantly. I have begun.

In early January, I commenced clearing the site of overgrown vegetation with a machete. A stake was driven in at the centre and a 16ft length of ash used as a compass to mark the perimeter.
A trench was dug to define the boundary.

Ash was felled using axe and bowsaw and dragged by hand out of the woodland. The bark, stripped with a machete used in the manner of a drawknife. One end was wedged in a Vee of a hazel tree.

In total, I felled and stripped 24 lengths. Twelve of the thickest to be primary rafters, twelve of the thinner to be secondary rafters in the reciprocal roof.

This pile was left to season.

The perimeter trench completed, the topsoil was next to be removed.

Moving on the digging out to create a level pad.

All this has been undertaken as and when conditions have been favourable, by hand, when the mood has taken me. It has been thus far, a meditative and thoroughly enjoyable endeavour. Each swing of the pick, each shovel load, a lesson in the earth upon which my temple to being shall sit. I have gained an intimate knowledge of its composition and structure, its history, its ingredients and make up of varying amounts of clay, sand, and stone.

The logs are now seasoning well and will continue to do so as I quarry more and more stone ready to build the walls.

As much of the materials that will make this shelter, this home, will be that which is local, natural, and abundant.

I initially thought of using earth bags, but the amount of wonderful stone begs me to adapt.

Ultimately the aim is to create something low impact and functional. Its beauty, incidental and possibly inevitable. There are no drawings, the earth speaks and what will manifest will be through the consciousness of its creator. I imagine that to be something along the lines of what my dear friend Simon Dale built.
Periodically, I will post updates of my progress.

I thank you humbly for reading.

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