Participating in Nature

Participating in Nature is Thomas Elpel‘s “field guide to primitive living skills”. The book is presented as a story of the author’s wanderings throughout one day. It covers far more than primitive technology, expanding into Elpel’s environmental actions and ideas on modern, sustainable living. The primitive skills themselves are diverse — everything from bow drills to brain-tanning — and are presented in a much simpler, more digestible (yet still complete) manner than, say, David Wescott’s Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth Skills. The chapter on plants is a succinct version of Botany in a Day, and focuses only on a small number of plants local to Elpel’s Rocky Mountain bioregion, but I found the rest of the discussions applicable here to the Pacific Northwest, with only minor exceptions.

It is an excellent beginner’s book to primitive skills and the mind-set that goes along with them, as well as a valuable reference for the more advanced.