Tag Archives: primitive skills


How was your 4th? Are you still recovering from overdoing everything: sun, food, social engagements and beer? Except for what you underdid: sleep and laundry.

We took Col’s training wheels off his bike, and after a year on his balance bike (read about this genius, European invention here), Col hopped on his two-wheeler and rode down the street. He rode down the street. He didn’t seem to mind that a certain parent was crying and cheering and leaping around with a camera.

And I don’t know if it’s because Col is my first child or his preemie history, but I get choked up at any moment that smacks of a normal, developmental milestone (we strive high here). Watching Col whip around the church parking lot on our street, I couldn’t help but flash to Col’s NICU days. That doll-sized baby in the volunteer-sewn preemie shirts, open in front to accommodate the sprawl of tubes and wires attached to his mini body; the doctors dodging my desperate inquiries into the likelihood of a 25-weeker turning out “normal.”

Col barely took his helmet off all weekend (which isn’t entirely a bad thing), pleading constantly to ride. We rode to the park, to a friend’s house (up a big hill), and all around the neighborhood. Rose came along for the ride (agreeably pulled in bike trailer) like a handbag we remembered to sling over our shoulder at the last minute. Poor Rose, by the time she’s riding a two-wheeler, Col will be zipping around on a unicycle or something.

It was sweet to see Col’s pride in his achievement. His eyes were as shiny as his black helmet as he dashed around like a fledgling bird on first flight. But he still has a lot to work on, namely, remembering that he’s riding a bike. It’s not unusual for Col to slip 20-feet behind me delivering a thoughtful monologue on how birds and marmots are similar, or veering dangerously close to ramming into my bike because a tiny beetle scurrying across the street caught his eye.


Saturday afternoon, we plucked the kids from their damp, nap-cocoons and deposited them in the mountain-bound Subaru. We brought friends Collin and Tina along as “decoys,” says Dan, but what he really meant is “beloved, childless-friends who might pay the kids some attention.”

Here’s Rosie helping Collin chop some wild mountain parsley:

See how Rosie's steadying Collin's wrists as he cuts?

Here’s that same wild parsley mixed into grilled elk burgers (yes, they were as delicious as they look):

We’re pretty organized when it comes to camping, but on these evening mountain romps (where we return to our own beds) we sometimes forget simple accessories like plates. Collin and Tina didn’t mind eating salad off rocks:

I found this gorgeous indian paintbrush blooming and am wondering if anyone has a name for this color?

electrified pumpkin?

There was a family bow-shoot, because, obviously.

It's Dan turn to shoot in the pre-choreographed scenario: *okay, you're sneaking through the trees and you hear something on your left. You turn, see it's an elk and have to get a shot off immediately.* Also noteworthy is Rose took her first shots without any assistance! Also, Dan would want you to know that we saw a small herd of Mama elk and their newborn calves in the green meadows you can see in this photo.

And this:

can you see the rainbow?


I was in the middle of planting two grape vines and Dan was tanning a deer hide (a supremely stinky process, involving stretching and abrading the thick animal skin for hours after it’s soaked overnight in a mixture of blended deer liver and brains), when our new downstairs roommate arrived for the first time, from Brooklyn.

Gorgeous, putrid-smelling hide, strung up and ready for softening.

I shook the rabbit manure off my hands and showed Karen around, noticing suddenly the stranger flotsam of the collective lives of this property’s inhabitants: an old, matted-hair, deer head in the chicken coop; dried herbs cobwebbing through the downstairs house; antlers every which way; over-caffeinated mother in stained skirt trying desperately to finish planting grapes; naked, dirt smudged children daring each other to “scratch my buttocks.”

It is rumored that Karen┬ácalled her mom and said “I’m not in Brooklyn anymore.”


We spent the fourth of July at Chimney Rock Archeological Area, participating in interactive, primitive skill demonstrations, which was fantastically fun.

Here’s Dan pounding yucca leaves into ropy fibers:

Making clay pottery with dear friends (and skillful decoys) Jojo and Emily:

And Col’s pictograph, using, er, primitive sharpies:

Col's pictograph story: a man with a feather in his hair hunting deer under the sun and moon with a turtle helper.

We asked the kids if they knew what was celebrated on the 4th of July.

“Fours,” guessed Rose. “Fireworks?” wondered Col.

While the rest of America ate hot dogs and potato salad, Jojo and Emily served up local goat with garden greens, and for dessert: ice cream topped with last year’s foraged and frozen strawberries and cherries. Hanging out with these friends makes me want to drop out of our monetary economy and spend my days roaming the county, picking fruit.

We got the sleep-overdue kids home and to bed just before the fireworks began, which was just as well because they were weary and crabby or as Dan says “not fit for human consumption.” Then, Dan and I laid on the living room rug in the dark and watched the sky pulse with color while the sweetest sounds of sleeping children filtered through the exploding night.