With temperatures rapidly dropping, I need to build a fire. Key to survival in the woods during winter is warmth. Whether or not you have a heavy coat and a shelter, it gets frigid rather quickly once the sun hides behind the mountaintops and the nearly bare treetops. I dig in my pocket and pull out my magnesium stick and go to work searching in the dim twilight for adequate kindling.
The flask in my pocket is enough to keep my mind off the cold for just long enough to locate a few handfuls of dry leaves and grasses. Heaping them into a pile, I then take out my buck knife and hack into a small sapling nearby. Teepeeing the now 2 foot logs around my kindling, I close my eyes and hold my head high. The icy breeze gently blows my hair to the left side of my face-the winds are coming from the east. I face west as I vigorously strike my magnesium.
After ten to fifteen strikes, my sparks finally take hold and I carefully blow on my kindling. Suddenly, I have flame. I unthaw my frozen fingers and my chilled ass before setting of to gather enough wood for the night. I can still see the flickering light echoing off of the trees when I hear a slight snap. I freeze more solid than the icicles hanging from the deciduous wasteland before me. Shuffle, shuffle. I don't breathe as I slowly reach my right arm down to the holster on my left hip and draw the .22 caliber berretta that I carried.
Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle goes the leaves and I wonder if this being knows I'm here. I patiently wait for the sound of more movement in the distance. One must be alert at all times in these woods. I hear another scurry of footsteps as I dare to breathe in. Eyes darting, I reholster my pistol and run back toward camp where I'm certain the smoke will deter my foe. There's only one thing in this universe that triggers my flight response. One beast so foul that no man could possibly take on in a close combat brawl and emerge the victor. I have shot down coyotes, bears, and mountain lions, but nothing is quite as fearsome as the skunk.
On the off chance I have the morning off work and child free, I try to spend my time in the woods. I, once upon a time, lived feral in the woods for several years with nothing more than a set of ratty clothes, a hunting knife, and my survival skills. This life was bliss.