Some people have been wondering how my trip to Rabbitstick went. Well, I’m not sure if it was worth the 12 hour drive and the $245 registration fee, plus the extra class fees once you get there, plus food because the stuff they serve is kinda crappy and there’s not enough of it, but I had a decent time.
Saturday- Scout and I carpooled with our friends Tony and Shaun. We arrived around 9 pm and set up the tipi. Scout went over to the main fire to see who was around. He asked if I wanted to walk over there with him to which I replied, “Heck No!” I was irritable and sore from the drive and just wanted to go to bed, so I did.
Sunday- We spent the morning making breakfast and talking to folks. On Sunday afternoon they have something called “commercials” where all the instructors introduce themselves and talk about what they are going to be teaching and where and when. Half the people at Rabbitstick are instructors so this lasts for 3 or 4 hours. It can be super hard to decide what to do because there are so many things going on at once. Here are just a few of the things I would have liked to do but didn’t get time to:
- quickie bows
- bone tools and ornaments
- primitive pottery
- women’s fire making
- buckskin clothing dos and don’ts
- quill work
- dyes from mushrooms and lichens
- wicker basketry
The way Rabbitstick works for the rest of the week is breakfast is served at 8 and morning announcements are made to remind people of that day’s classes and other important stuff. Then there is a morning class session from 9-noon followed by a break where you can make your own lunch, or buy some yummy mexican food for 5 bucks. An afternoon session takes place from 1-4 pm, and dinner’s at 6, followed by evening talks, slideshows, and of course a fire and drumming, can’t forget the drumming. Here is what I did do:
Monday- I took felt bootie making with Margaret Mathewson. They’re kinda like Uggs but way cooler. I got my lunch too late and missed the start of the afternoon classes so I worked on them all day. We sewed them together from sweaters and blankets Margaret had bought at the Goodwill Bins (a reject center here in Portland where you can buy goods by the pound) and shrunk in the washing machine. You could also overdye your finished boots yellow in goldenrod or brown in black walnut dye resulting in some pretty cool colors (purple + yellow = a beautiful brown!), but I chose to keep mine white. Next I have to make tire sandals to go over them so I can wear them on the street.
Tuesday- I made some badass looking elk hock armbands in the morning with Kitara and then tried on my new accessories with my buckskin short shorts. I started out the afternoon at a talk about a thousand mile walkabout by Alice Tullock, but was disappointed in the classical backpacking nature of her trip. When she said something like, “If you want to do a long walk you will be in mild to severe pain the entire time”, I waved bye bye and hightailed it over to the felting station (from raw wool this time) where I made this shitty bag with lots of holes in it:
I wouldn’t care much about felting as it’s not very primitive and I don’t ever expect to be a sheep owner but Willem has 100 lbs of raw wool that something’s got to be done with and I don’t have any winter clothes here in Portland. In the evening I attended a women’s circle. It was the new moon and several of us were bleeding (the time most women did in traditional cultures) and we shared dark chocolate. How amazing is that?
Wednesday- I was tired of sitting on the hard ground hunched over tedious craft projects so I spent all day away from camp with John Kallas learning about wild foods of the Rockies. He exposed common wild food myths and answered several questions I had been wondering about for a long time, so it was well worth my while.
Thursday- I attended a lecture on tattooing, primitive to modern by Dr. Julien in the morning. In the afternoon I went to a talk by Lynx Vilden and her motley crew who had just spent several months training and two weeks living primitively in the Cascades. The talk wasn’t as bioregionally oriented as I hoped but I got to sample some whitebark pine nuts and a wild stew and cattail flour pudding with berries and bear grease. I’m still craving that pudding. In the evening Scout, Tony and I drove to a local hotsprings, piped into a pool in a building with the aesthetic of a YMCA gym crossed with an Econolodge, but in the middle of nowhere. Good times.
Friday-I went to the primitive tattooing demo session not knowing what I would do or if I would do anything at all, but I got caught up in the excitement and decided tattoo my ankle with the word “Allegheny”. It was kind of like getting my dead lover’s name inscribed on my bicep. I’m pretty grief stricken over moving to Portland. Actually I’m fine in the city where there’s no comparison but I tend to break down every time I go in these western woods because it reminds me that they aren’t home.
I used plain old charcoal from the firepit mixed with water for my ink and started out with a hawthorn for the needle being that they are more commonly found in the bioregions I frequent, but it was a bit dull so I switched to a barrel cactus spine after the first three letters and things went much smoother. I might add something to it like a native tree or a really cute deer.
Saturday-Show over. Packed up and left.
Hmm…after writing my recap I’m even less convinced that the trip was worth it. After all John Kallas is located in Portland and Margaret Mathewson and Dr. Julien are nearby too leaving me wondering what I went all the way to Idaho for. Oh well, I saw a lot of rad buckskin clothes, met some new people, and and learned what Rabbitstick is all about. Scout and I both react poorly to traveling (babies!) and are both disappointed in the lack of comprehensive understanding of rewilding displayed by events like Rabbitstick, but if you wanna learn primitive and traditional crafts it’s a decent enough place to be. I’m sure the you’re-just-another-stupid-primitivist-with-a-blog crowd is going to jump on the fact that I did nothing but enhance my wardrobe, but I didn’t plan it, that’s just the way things worked out, and besides if the idea of having a pretty bracelet to wear makes cordage making more appealing to people, what’s wrong with that? Actually, in true Fabulous Forager fashion I was thinking that if I went back to Rabbitstick next year I would run a primitive salon and spa tent with:
- yucca hair washes, and herbal conditioners, dyes and shine rinses
- obsidian flake haircuts (these were already being done this year)
- hot stone massage
- clay packs and salt scrubs
- herbal facials
- black walnut spray on tans
- temporary tattoos and body painting
- natural pigment makeup and ground mica body sparkles
- hair braiding and styling with feathers, beads, and buckskin thongs
- beeswax waxing or honey sugaring
- clamshell eyebrow shaping
This last week, since we’ve been back in Portland, I was housesitting and taking care of Mr. Sweetie while Urban Scout was out in Molalla working on some gardening projects at his Mom’s house. Oh and if you’re wondering how I did on the Body Ecology Diet? I stuck to it for exactly zero days. For three I was still trying, but I screwed it up each day by consuming fruit and improper food combining and probably a dozen other ways I wasn’t even aware of. Obviously my heart wasn’t in it to begin with and as the days went by my anti-BED feelings strengthened. I just kept thinking why the fuck am I doing this when I obviously don’t believe in it? I’m sooo happy now that I’m not on that damn diet. I’m not binging on pizza and donuts or anything but I’m eating yogurt and apples, and peaches and honey, and almond butter, and miso, and tomatoes, and avacadoes, and goat cheese and I feel awesome.