Primitive Pottery, Sneaking, and Snakes!

Last Village Day, Raccoon Clan got to work with some clay that I recently harvested from the Green River in Utah. Sometimes, to obtain your own clay, you can extract it from dirt using a water-processing method. After that, it often needs to be tempered to enhance its structural integrity. But this clay came straight out of the ground fine-grained, smooth & silky, with just the right amount of sand, not too different from the stuff you can buy at art supply stores! With care (enough kneading and subsequent drying) this clay can actually be successfully fired primitively by being buried in a very hot, well-cultivated coal bed from a regular wood campfire.

We mostly made little round beads, and some of the kids made pinch pots. They dried for a week at my house, and then last Thursday when we first separated into clans for the day, Raccoon clan gathered around the fire and watched as we (the mentors) buried the dried clay objects in the smoldering coal-bed from that morning’s fire. I asked the Raccoon clan kids to step back for their safety, but fortunately nothing exploded (which disappointed some, actually). But it was a win for the beads and pots we made!

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After burying the clay in the fire, we rallied ourselves for some serious sneaking around the land, with the goal of beginning to scout a good site for a future Raccoon clan shelter. We decided to blindfold one of the mentors… it ended up being me… and I was led by a couple of very responsible Raccoon clan members who watched my every step, protecting me from tripping over rocks and falling on cactus spikes! We tried to sneak around without being seen by the other clans, and with minimal talking. It was a great introduction to working as a team while also needing to be covert, and also needing to transport someone who had one of their vital senses impaired (me).

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The beads and pots after I fished them out of the coal bed at the end of the day.

There was also a bit of a snake-theme to the day. Other than at times having to belly crawl like snakes on the ground while we were sneaking, we also got to see a garter snake that Bella caught, and everyone at Village day got to see a dead rattlesnake that had been hit by a car or bicyclist on the road nearby and was in near-perfect condition.

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Bella caught a garter snake!

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It was sad to see that such a healthy rattlesnake had its life cut short, but we were also grateful for the opportunity to see one of these creatures up close without the danger of being bitten. We looked but didn’t touch. I’ve never seen a rattlesnake this close up and I wonder, what type of rattlesnake is this? There are a few different kinds that can be found in Colorado. Here’s a list of Colorado snakes with some fantastic pictures.

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