Fire Keepers | Week 10 | Bent Bark Baskets Before Befriending Barred Owl

This past week at Fire Keepers was a hoot! Not only did we get to work really hard to create something beautiful for our awesome Mothers, but we we able to collectively stalk underneath of an big Barred Owl (Strix varia) and hang out with her for what felt like ages… It was a very special moment to be a part of and I know the kids were extremely excited about this!


For the Mom’s we created bent bark baskets out of Western Red Cedar bark.  Melissa and I had to take a few cedars down that were too close to the house and they are still providing us with wood and bark material for projects.  While the is the time of year when the sap is rising in many trees and you could essentially peel a slice of bark off of a tree and it would be malleable enough to bend into a basket shape.  Since our bark has been sitting for a year, we needed to soak it overnight to achieve the desired pliability.  Having put 24+ hours of weaving work into one willow basket and having spent long hours creating coiled pine needle baskets, I am a big fan of bent bark baskets for the fact that they are super easy to make with minimal tools! If I am truly in a survival situation, these are the projects that will be first on my list! If done with care, you could even create a basket that is able to hold water!

The kids work hard scoring , shaping and measuring out the bark.  Most students chose to bind using wire to wrap, while one student decided she wanted to sew the basket together with artificial sinew as lashing.  This took a lot of time and patience and while she worked on this the rest of our crew created a mini village out of sticks and cones.

Then it was time to burn off some of that energy and go for an adventure! We went to a new favorite spot at the top of a large hill across the creek… The area is great in that it is open with big logs to play and practice forest ninja/parkour moves and plenty of ferns to hide and sneak behind!

We were going to utilize those ferns and play a game of Owl Eye when we heard two Barred Owls calling to each other in the trees not too far away. When a third owl called back from behind us we knew we should settle in and use our Deer Ears and Owl Eyes… One of the students noticed a blur through the trees as an owl silently swooped past us! Instinctively, we dropping into our Fox Feet and moved in the direction of the owl.  When we got a respectful distance away, we stopped an had a sit spot for a few minutes… The owl seemed interested in us but unperturbed — it appeared we had a new friend. 

The children must have been feeling daring because after few minutes of sit spot, the kids started creeping closer to the Owl’s tree until they were right under it!  They reveled in this special timeless moment with some charismatic megafauna! After a while, we gave the owl some space and went to play our game of Owl Eye with a new appreciation for the quiet and camouflage of the Barred Owl!

Hope all the Moms are getting the royal treatment today!
Happy Momma’s Day!