Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Kindling Bag.

The Kindling Bag.
Some things you just don’t read about in period journals, other events are recorded but they are far and few between. We as Living Historians and Experimental Archaeologists are given the job of reading between the lines and filling in the gaps. For instance, what information do you glean from the following quote:
“Fierce winds and blowing snow reduced the men to huddling among large rocks, unable even to start a fire.”
Samuel Hearne, Canada, 1770.
I deduce from this journal record that these men had no dry kindling, or, they had run out of tinder. For one man to run out of tinder I might expect, but for two or more men to neglect to collect more tinder seems unlikely. So I suspect the problem was no dry kindling being available given the weather conditions.
A smart man or woman in this period under these sorts of living conditions is unlikely to make this same mistake twice. So I think it is safe to assume that at least some people would have made provision for carrying dry kindling with them in future and certainly to make sure their tinderbox was well stocked with prepared tinder.

My close friend the late Arthur W. Baker and I shared many adventures over the years, travelling on the Great Lakes in winter by boat and canoe, being caught in sudden storms before we could reach shelter we have huddled under canvas and spent some cold nights using our boat as a shelter turned on its side. We never failed to make fire even under the most arduous weather conditions because we both learnt early on how important it was to be well prepared when travelling in the bush and never to take anything for granted. A week or more of wet weather can reduce your tinder and dry kindling supplies to nought.

 This bag was Arthur’s kindling bag. On short trips he may not bother to carry this bag with him, but on longer trips and certainly when he was travelling by water, he always carried this bag containing dry kindling. It weighs very little when packed, but is a little bulky, but well worth the effort of carrying it along.
Recently I did find myself in the position of having run low on supplies of kindling which I carry in the bottom of my fire-bag. A week of wet weather meant everything was at least damp if not totally wet, so I had to resort to using a lot of tinder and fanning the fire with my hat to get it hot enough to flame. Had I been carrying this kindling bag it would have made my fire lighting much easier.
Maybe Mr Hearn did not learn the lesson the first time: “…rain began hammering down so heavily that, one hundred miles from the nearest trees, and with nothing available but moss, nobody could start a fire.” Samuel Hearne, 1770.
“In the woods we were under some disadvantage, having no fire-works”. Journal of John Woolman, 1720-1742.
There is also an Indian kindling bag in the United States National Museum. Figs. 19-21.—Fire-making set and extra hearth. Cat. No. 10258, TJ.S.N.M. Frobisher Bat.
Collected by C. F. Hall. 20, Moss in a leathern case. Cat. No. 10191, U.S.N.M.

Collected by C. F. Hall

1 comment:

Gorges Smythe said...

Good idea. A little heart pine might come in handy.