Survival in the Boston Mountains was always keen on the minds of the early settlers here. A bitter cold winter, with a lost flint stone to start a fire, could spell imminent disaster. Clever mountain settlers knew that they could make a fire with ice. How?…very simple. Water was always abundant. In the cold, grey days of a deep Winter a frozen pool of water was a “simmering” chance for FIRE!
With dedicated desire, I ascended to the rank of “Eagle Scout” at eighteen years of age. I spent more than one summer delving into “survival” camping. Myself and my fellow Scouting companions were blessed with a “well-seasoned” Scoutmaster. With his honest leadership we learned many interesting ways of surviving in the wilderness. One trick he taught us was in the “dead” of Winter.
One early January weekend we assembled for our monthly camping experience. With a break in the weather, after a week of below freezing temps, we welcomed the afternoon sunshine and headed out-of-town to set up camp. Next morning our Scoutmaster led us to a frozen pond nearby. After chipping out a small block of clear ice, he showed us how to carve the block into a thick circle, much like a giant button. After passing the large button of ice around, the warmth of our hands had smoothed it until it was clear like a magnifying glass. He showed us that if we set it upright between two logs, we could focus the sunshine through it into a slender beam of intense light falling on the ground below. We centered a small pile of dry grass directly in the beams path. In less than a minute the grass ignited. We stood amazed! We had created fire from ice with a little help from our friend the sun.
No, we probably will never have to resort to this method of starting a fire. But you know how fond I am of learning “honorable” ways of getting any task done. Much like making your own bread, brewing your own beer, cutting your own firewood, and growing your own garden, starting your own fire from ice is honorable! At least having the knowledge is personally satisfying.