This next week I will be traveling to Pennsylvania in order to examine, photograph and ultimately write about a pair of pistols given to our first president, George Washington by the Marquis de Lafayette during the American Revolutionary War. These two men enjoyed a deep friendship and both of them were men of great character, integrity, energy and vision. These exquisite pistols, made by a master French gunsmith are a living testimony to that lasting and enduring friendship. I have done quite a bit of research on both of these men and one thing I can say is that we would not have won the American Revolution without them. Their commitment and contributions to the principles of liberty, their character and integrity and determination, helped carry our revolutionary cause through its darkest and bleakest hours. And Washington’s continuing steadfast leadership in the framing of our government and during his terms as president is nothing short of phenomenal, not to mention, inspirational. Yet I find myself feeling depressed as I consider these two men and other great men and women leaders throughout our nation’s history and then look at choices for president this year. I ask myself, where are the real leaders, the ones we can trust, who are honest and who motives for office are not so self-serving? I wonder if Washington and Lafayette could look down on our country today, what their comments would be. Most of all, I find myself wishing I had other choices to vote for. Yet, I am still thankful I live in a country where I have the right (and privilege) to vote. It is just one of those freedoms we have, thanks to those who have paid the ultimate price for the many liberties we enjoy. So, I will exercise my right. I will make my voice heard at the polls and hope (and pray) that whoever is elected next Tuesday will do a decent job in office for the next four years. It is important to vote!
Spent an enjoyable time yesterday picking raspberries. The birchbark basket was made specifically for berry picking. Birchbark is so versatile. I like being able to use things taken (and made) directly from nature’s bounty. Bark is a renewable resource given to us by our Creator—nothing genetically modified or plastic here. The raspberries tasted so good.
Birchbark is a wonderful medium to work with. Here are three recent projects I completed. I can see why native people found birchbark so useful. It is readily available here in the North Country, has strength and can be molded and bended (to an extent). Black spruce root is also readily available for sewing the bark together. Birchbark is also comes from a renewable resource and is replaceable. I hope to do more in the future.
A neck knife–the chord is adjustable and woven from
three different color strands of hemp.
A simple bark container, sewn together with black spruce root.
I spent an enjoyable couple of hours in the woods this afternoon harvesting birchbark for some upcoming projects–hopefully not repairing my canoe. At this time of the year, the bark can be removed easily. Removing the bark does not kill the tree. Birchbark is a remarkable material to make containers with. I probably should have been out mowing, but sometimes we have to make time to do the things we love and have meaning for us.
Cindy and I traveled to St. Louis last weekend to participate in the Boone Society’s annual reunion. We had a great time meeting all the wonderful people there, many of them related to the Boone family. I was the keynote speaker for the event and talked about our recent expedition which covered 230 miles and 14 stops along the Boone Trace, Wilderness Road corridor. I bought a number of visual aids, including the saddle and firearm I carried on the expedition as well as a mannequin dressed as an 18th century frontiersman. I also used Power Point to show some of the many digital images taken on the expedition with music from a wonderful CD titled: The Wilderness Trail. It is produced by Ron Short. For more information on this got to Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Association www.danielboonetrail.com
Ric Lampert had on display some of the many, wonderful, digital photos he took at Martin’s Station and during the Cumberland Gap Crossing. Some are shown here. These are being made into limited edition prints that will soon be available on the Boone Society’s website. Great job, Ric!! Also, three rifles that Ric put together were on display. Two of them for the Boone Society, reflecting the type of flintlock firearm that Daniel Boone might have used and another one—all three very high quality. I continue to evaluate and reevaluate our recent expedition. It was both stressful and meaningful. I will be writing about this for the next couple of issues of Muzzleloader magazine.
Gene Shadley, Don Newsome and I packed up our gear today and headed south on day one of our journey. We traveled in a nice truck donated to our expedition by Trapper Dan Bergerson. I was pleased to see that The Boone Society has a promotional video about our expedition on their Facebook Page. It is very well done, has music and shows some of the participants in this project and is worth viewing. It takes many dedicated people to make something like this work and there are some very fine people that have contributed their time and efforts towards the success of this project. There will be live updates at 5:00pm every day starting soon on the Boone Society’s Facebook page. I will let everyone know. Thanks for your interest. Remember: our history is worth knowing and preserving.
Next Tuesday, I will be leaving Grand Rapids with two of my friends to participate in a great adventure: following the corridor of America’s early, westward expansion. Here is the video that we made after a five-mile ride:
More training today. John Hayes, one of the core members of the group and longtime friend got in the saddle and we went for about three miles, maybe more. I added saddle bags, a martingale, halter and hemp lead rope to my outfit–also a sheepskin pad for the seat of my saddle. The weather was cool and the animals a bit on the get up and go side, but it was an enjoyable ride. We got off the main trails and went right through the woods at times, over logs and under limbs. Mike Brown provided the horses and rode along. There is still much to learn, but there is something special about being seeing nature in a saddle. So looking forward to taking what we are learning and applying those skills on the Boone Trace and Wilderness Road corridor.
Gene Shadley and I spent the afternoon testing our saddles and tack and trying to hone our riding skills. This expedition has been a very big undertaking with many hours spent in preparation. At least our time in the saddle went well, here are some of the pictures.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear, nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life..
-Henry David Thoreau-
“Nature is the canvas on which God paints His color, creativity, character, design, majesty, beauty and love for us to see, if we will only take time to look and listen.”