My Year Without Matches: Escaping the City in Search of the Wild

My Year Without Matches: Escaping the City in Search of the Wild

Language: English

Pages: 298

ISBN: 1863957219

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In the tradition of Wild and Tracks, one woman's story of how she left the city and found her soul.

Disillusioned and burnt out by her job, Claire Dunn quits a comfortable life to spend a year off the grid in a wilderness survival program. Her new forest home swings between ally and enemy as reality - and the rain - sets in.

Claire's adventure unfolds over four seasons and in the essential order of survival: shelter, water, fire and food. She arrives in summer, buoyant with idealism, and is initially confronted with physical challenges: building a shelter, escaping the vicious insects and making fire without matches. By winter, however, her emotional landscape has become the toughest terrain of all. Can she connect with her inner spirit to guide her journey onwards?

Brimming with earthy charm and hard-won wisdom, My Year Without Matches is one woman's quest for belonging, to the land and to herself. When Claire finally cracks life in the bush wide open, she discovers a wild heart to warm the coldest night.

"A brave and adventurous book ... Claire's writing is full of life and profound surprises." - Anne Deveson

"An entertaining look at how Dunn survived for four seasons in a 'hundred acres of baking scrubland" - Sun Herald

"With earthy, expressive honesty she shares her struggles [and] the swooping highs of crafting life out of a block of unforgiving scrub... by sharing such an intimate journey, Claire has given us all a gift." - WellBeing Magazine

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around the fire, glowing in the aftermath of group bonding. After a few minutes, Dan jumps up and starts singing a medley of eighties songs. Initially annoyed at this seemingly ill-fitting end to our night, I give in to the irresistible charms of yodelling “Eternal Flame” around our ceremonial fire. Soon we are up doing our best Peter Garrett impersonations, belting out “Beds are Burning” (Ryan’s a bit lost on that one). We dance ourselves into ecstasy, competing for the best daggy move as we

I double over in a rasping cough as saliva dribbles down my airway. Slow down, I know what my real work is – feeling and following my heart. And right now I want to sit by the creek and weave a basket. Do you really? Or is this just another project to tick off the list? Maybe what you actually want is to sit in the hammock all winter. Look at you beavering away like you’ve done all your life. Nothing’s changed. You’re too scared to really follow your heart. A currawong flies to a low perch,

laziness as a spiritual practice, then?” I say, grinning. “Something like that,” Ryan laughs. He turns to retrieve two wooden bowls from a shelf. “Oh, and Nikki and I are back together again. Just so you know. But that’s not the reason I’m staying.” “No, of course it isn’t,” I grin. “You ready for it?” asks Ryan, lifting up a raisin-dotted sweet potato. I nod. “You have no idea how ready.” * As I walk back home in the dark, my mind contemplates the conundrum: how do I quit without giving

around under the skirts of grasstrees for the petticoat of dry needles, plucked dry stamens from the underbelly of banksia flowers where the water didn’t run, and fossicked for dry inner bark of swamp mahogany and stringybark. The key to success was unlimited time: a slow treasure hunt. I reckon I learnt more about those plants in that test than in a whole year of taking from them in fair weather. There were surprise treasures too – a bandicoot nest and a bush laden with ripe sour currents. I’ve

them. I move my hand over the fire, as if wanting to stroke it. I remember back to when I first arrived, feeling like I was intruding on the land, apologetic for my presence. Now I think the land might miss me when I’m gone. Who else is going to appreciate the efforts of the latest pea to flower, to gape in awe at the intricacy of a nest? Who else is going to offer up a fire in thanks? Settling into my couch, I pick up my latest project – a bag for my firesticks made from the hide of the

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