By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
His camouflage-pantsed co-worker, Dan Bush, says, "I'm the gopher. Sheldon tells me what to do. He talked me into going on this trip." Bush has the all-American looks of Steve Garvey and a tee shirt reading "No Fear." He figures he'll teach whatever he learns to his kid.
Kathy Bartholemew, on the other hand, is checking out career choices. She's studying psychology at Prescott College and says desks and offices aren't her scene, so she's considering mixing outdoor skills with youth counseling.
Lundin nods. "I sure didn't plan this," he says. "Like, 'Mommy, when I grow up, I want to teach primitive skills.' But I think it's valuable. It allows people to get back in time a little bit and find out who their ancestors were. It's still a common denominator."
And so, no Indian symbolism. The illustrations on his fliers come from ancient cultures in France and Italy. Lundin really dug the recent discovery of Iceman, the 5,000-year-old frozen body in the Alps.
"He was our heritage," he says, obviously forgetting the Flintstones. "And I'm glad. Usually, you know, it's the Native American, or the black. Now we have a white abo.
"A lot of common sense we've totally forgotten because we can run to town and just get a sandwich or have a little man in a blue truck deliver our water. All these things are held together by threads, and they can be cut. And if they're not cut, at least you'll have the peace of mind of knowing that, 'Well, I can do these things.'"
The projects start with crafting water containers out of the gourds he's distributed. The process involves sawing through the gourd at the neck, cleaning out the papery pith inside and then the slimy, meatier stuff deeper in. After swirling the insides first with gravel and then sandy creek water to smooth out the interior walls, it's time to look for a chunk of wood to chisel out a cork, then spin some jute cord around the whole thing for utility and ornamentation.
It takes maybe a couple of hours. That's one thing primitive people had in abundance--time. They could have waited in line at the post office all day long. They had no Day Runners full of appointments to keep, no ringing phones or beeping pagers, no film at 11. Of course, they had no air conditioning, electric stoves or $200,000 homes, either.
Midday passes into afternoon with the scratch of saw blades slicing through gourds, the scrape of knives prying away pith, the swish of gravel swirling inside. The 90-degree heat brings an onslaught of gnats and mosquitoes capable of raising welts that won't vanish for weeks.
"Primitive technology," Lundin proclaims as Bush negotiates twine around his budding canteen. When you work with natural materials, you learn their properties. A plant's potential for cordage, whatever. Check out this horsetail--it's great for scouring. Try some on your thumbnail.
But the students have begun to wonder how primitive this process is. What if they hadn't packed in gourds and water-purifying iodine? What if they were actually living somewhere in the wilderness? What then, Primitive Guy?
Basically, Lundin says, the backpackers would be about where they are now--which is up a creek--but they would not have even a proverbial paddle. Without gourds, they would probably have to burn out a wooden vessel for carrying water.
Of course, animal bladders could become canteens--but first they would have to catch an animal. And they'd probably want to cook it.
For that, they'd need fire.
If they didn't have iodine, they'd have to boil water. For that, though, they'd need a container.
And then they'd need fire.
Speaking of fire, it's about that time. Lundin is going to demonstrate the drill-hearth method, which he calls the master's program of natural fire making. (The bachelor's degree is the Boy Scout trick of rubbing two sticks together.) The drill-hearth method involves twisting the tip of a thin, carved wood rod, a sort of miniature pool cue, furiously into a second, thicker piece of wood, cut longways into a wafer.
The friction creates a hot powder, like the embers of a cigarette, that collects in a little notch cut into the wafer. Lundin's got it down to where he can produce smoldering dust in about 30 seconds. Think of fire as heat, he says, and not flame. See, the powder is heat, which you can then dump into a nest of tinder scavenged from the bark of surrounding trees. If you've done it right, and added some well-timed blowing, you've got your primitive self a blaze.
"Let's burn something," Primitive Guy says. "I don't feel like a man unless I'm burning something."
He's got some yucca-wood drills and hearths already made that would do the trick, but whaddaya think, we're in a K mart parking lot here or something? He waits behind while the others scurry off in a quest for fire implements.
The muggy afternoon wears on past five o'clock. Oien returns with a couple of potential drills. Lundin takes a look at one of them. As Wayne and Garth might say, it schwings. Lundin asks Bartholemew, who is whittling away under the tree, how her drill is coming. "Well," she says, "it's not a schwinger."