Recently by Mark Sisson: Seeing the Light: Why Sun Exposure May Be Good for Your Eyes
There’s nothing like living Primal in summer. Certain aspects just come easier: the copious fresh produce, unlimited outdoor exercise, long daylight, ample sunshine. True, those of us in the warmer states have some year-long advantage here. Nonetheless, summer remains my favorite season — probably a result of my New England roots. The brevity of the season there inevitably inspires a true carpe diem attitude. Wherever you go, however, I think summer brings with it a sense of adventure and spontaneity. Even if our school years are (decades) long gone, we still embrace summer as a kind of u201Cholidayu201D from the routine. For many of us, the season is a time to explore, travel, and live outside, relegating the house to role of mere storage unit. There are the elaborate vacations, the well-planned day trips, the sporting and social events. Today, however, I’m thinking along nostalgic lines, some old school pastimes that invoke the (somewhat endangered) ease of summer.
As a kid, my favorite summer days and evenings were all about playing rough, running free, and living like the young savage I was. Needless to say, by the end of the day, I was wearing and eating the elements. Here are a few of my favorites — little to no equipment or planning required. Some, you could say, have subtle survivalist elements. Others are just an afternoon’s adventure or an invitation to lose yourself in a few hours of outdoor daydreaming. (The PB is about enjoying the best of life after all.) Each of them in some way, I think, fit the Primal theme, and they’re family friendly to boot. Here’s to kicking it old school this summer. Enjoy, everyone!
I’ll just say it: we don’t appreciate the dark enough these days. Caught up in the world of 24-hour illumination, we’ve lost touch with how to live at night as our ancestors did. As Richard Louv noted in Last Child in the Woods, many urban children have never even been in darkness before. They represent and feel more dramatically what our society as a whole has gravitated toward in recent decades: a fear of and disowning of natural darkness.
On the nights when I got to stay out late, I relished wandering into the thick of the darkened woods. My heart would beat faster. My palms would sweat. I felt like an alert animal, excitedly crossing a mysterious threshold. Yet, within a few yards I was one with the shadows.
There’s a more practical Primal lesson to be absorbed as well. Many have written about the modern undeveloped sense of night vision. Paul Shepard, Peter Nabokov, and others explain that the peripheral vision (compliments of those handy rod cells) we inherently use to u201Cseeu201D our way through a dark trail accesses a primitive level of consciousness — the primal u201Cunconsciousu201D as it’s often called. We can see finally when we stop thinking, when we let these long-buried, primeval abilities take the reins. For a young child, this comes naturally. For the rest of us, it’s a skill and adventure worth rediscovering. Check out your local recreation and environmental chapters, which often host night walks or at least moonlit walks during the summer.
It’s not exactly u201Cleave no trace,u201D I realize, but it doesn’t get much more raw or earthy than this. (Make a mud shirt while you’re at it.) You’ve got the sun, the mud, and the water. (What more does a kid/Primal type need?) Truth be told, it’s just walking through the water, but that never dampened our exuberance. You can easily burn an afternoon alternatively gliding and rushing through the water, stopping as often as you want to inspect something curious along the banks or to check out the wildlife crawling or swimming by you — if you haven’t scared them away. (Plus, there were always the fits of laughter after someone flipped out about a leech — or several — on their leg.) We did it barefoot when left to our own devices or in old sneakers at summer camp. Done stealthily, you can snag yourself a snack, which leads me to the next pastime….
Cooking Your Own Catch
No cooler or kitchen here. Try on the old school scouting endeavor of making a fire and cooking up — right there in the dirt and sticks — whatever you can hunt, catch, or gather (observing state laws of course). Those fish or crawdads you snagged creek stomping? How about cooking u2018em up beachside? Make your feast as recreational or survivalist as you want. No need for matches or a Bic. Go hunting for some kindling and good fire bow materials. Want a brush up on primitive fire building? Check out this article.