Survival tips of a Celtic wanderer. Part one: basic equipment

Survival tips of a Celtic wanderer. Part one: basic equipment

Thanks to our sophisticated technology, we are able to listen to the conversations between the Bard Arduinna and her young disciple Samis (whom you will meet in book 5) in the year 38 BC ...

For nine years now I have been forced to wander the world, and much of my time is spent away from settlements and villages. Let me teach you, Samis, what I have learned, so that you may master your ways more easily than I did at first.

There are few things you need that you cannot make for yourself when you are on the road. The most important item to have is your knife. It does not have to be a particularly beautiful knife, it does not need an ornately carved handle, but it does need to be sharp and not too small. Its blade should be at least longer than the width of your palm. You need to take good care of it so that it will be at your service. You may even want to name it. You must sharpen it regularly, for as much as you will need it, it will quickly become dull, and you must grease it regularly so that the iron does not rust. The fatty skin of a wild boar you have caught works well for this, or the fat of ground nuts if you do not have animal fat. Just as the knife helps you obtain food, it is only fair that you return some of that food, the nourishing fat, to your knife. It will serve you as a weapon to defend yourself, to gut and cut animals, to cut branches from trees, or to prepare firewood. You will use it to cut rawhide and leather to make yourself shoes, dig up roots or remove splinters from your hands. I advise you to make a sheath for your knife, whether it is from a piece of leather, bark, or woven from grass. This will protect you from accidentally cutting yourself. Do not look at me like that, Samis, I know you are a skilled and mindful boy, yet it happens quickly that one gets to the open blade. Besides, the sheath is also good for your knife because it protects it from getting wet.

The second thing that is of great importance to get through an outdoor life in good health is dry clothes. It is not possible to weave cloth in the forest, and tanning hides is time-consuming work. That is why it was important to me to get you a second cloak when we had the chance. It will not be possible to avoid getting wet. Downpours, a fall into a creek, sweat... In the summer this may not be such a problem, but once the weather is cooler it is essential that you can change your clothes when they are wet. It is important to keep your spare garment - even if it is just a second, warm cloak - well protected, in an oiled leather pouch inside your travel bag, for example. Not only is it immensely comforting to be able to put on dry clothes in the evening after you have gotten wet, built your shelter, and built a fire, it also protects you from getting sick. Nothing is worse than having to sleep in wet clothes. In winter, it can cause your death if you get sick and you must do everything to avoid that.

The third is not vital, but extremely valuable to have: a metal bowl. It will serve you as a cooking pot to make soup or porridge, as a vessel to draw water or to gather berries – it is much more practical than gathering them in the upturned hem of your robe, because your robe will get stained quickly anyway, it does not have to be by highly staining blackberries ... The best are the bowls of the Roman soldiers, I must admit, because they have a small handle with a hole so you can hang them on your belt. My bronze bowl has also served me well in Gaul for throwing it at the head of an obtrusive man ... But we will talk about how to defend yourself another time.

Also very practical is a fire iron, which will save you a lot of trouble in making a fire. I shall tell you more about that when we talk about making fire. And a water flask. If necessary, you can make one on the go, but a good water flask made of thick, waxed leather with a tight stopper is a fine thing.

Everything else you can make yourself. Hides to keep you warm, even if they are not tanned; cords and ropes for traps and a slingshot; a shelter and whatever else you need. About everything I will teach you what I have learned myself, and in one of our next lessons about the most important thing you need to learn: to make fire in all sorts of ways. But next time, in keeping with the season, I want to tell you about all the powerful plants that are available to us now that winter is over.

Want to get a taste of the Celtic historical series Braider of Words? Then read the free prequel Moon of beginnings, to see if you enjoy the series as much as so many others do (the German edition is at book 5 right now and all books will appear in English within the next 2-3 years).

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