Saturday, May 18, 2024

Directionally Challenged


When I was a kid, we’d head off into the woods alone. Being as I’m ‘directionally challenged’ the folks got me a dog figuring he’d lead me home when I got lost. I’m not smart enough to learn how to use a compass but I am smart enough to recognize my limitations. My solution is to not stray off the beaten path far enough to get lost. Over time I venture further afield as I learn the terrain, but I have a deep commitment to my family to act responsibly. Getting lost in the woods is not responsible.

 That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. As ‘directionally challenged’ as kids are I think, as parents, Grandma and Grandpa expected me to get lost, so we got a dog. Plus Grandpa took time to coach me on how to behave if I had to spend a night in the woods. To this day my coat carries a light survival kit. It’s so light any kid can carry it in their pocket. Looking ahead to those spring jaunts when a kid just has to taste the newness of the woods and imagining how cold and miserable a night in the woods in spring can be, sticking a few things in an inside pocket of an outside jacket can set a family up for success in case one of their own becomes ‘directionally challenged’.

Yes, it did happen to me and the warm friendly dog I hugged all night was useless as a direction finder. Thankfully I’d paid attention to the instructions Grandpa gave for spending an unexpected night in the woods during cold spring weather.  

Recipe for Rescue for the Directionally Challenged

NOT a complete list but enough to think on to make a list to suit your particular needs.

• A WHISTLE of good quality, American made, preferably one the child likes to play with.

• 33-GALLON BAG in the brightest color you can get, to use as a poncho once a hole is poked in the bottom of it. Don’t cut the plastic. Poking stretches the plastic without ripping it. A cut will allow the plastic to rip.

• 12x12” ALUMINUM FOIL folded to make a reflector being careful not to create sharp edges

• 2 BRIGHT COLORED COTTON NECK SCARVES or handkerchiefs can be tied together and used as a signal flag. I used to tie one around my neck and the other around my dog’s neck.

• SNACK trail mix that is shelf stable, that won’t spoil for an extended time. Rolled oat type granola mixed with molasses was my choice back-then.

Instructions, best coached pre-spring setting calmly at the kitchen table:

If you should get lost, stay together with the pet or the friend you are with, hug for warmth if it’s cold. Most importantly, once you realize you are lost, STAY IN ONE PLACE. To keep warm, poke a hole in the big bag with your fingers to use the bag as a poncho. This will keep out the wind chill. Pull the bag over your head so only your face is exposed if you don’t have a hat.

Only eat the snack (no berries, bark, or grass). Avoid large rivers and lakes. Find a cozy waiting place; not a hiding place; make a nest to rest in. Under a tree is a good place. Once you have done this tie the bright cotton scarves together and lay them in an open space. Get out the whistle and the tinfoil. Blow the whistle, wriggle the tinfoil, and do your best to look bigger for the searchers to find you. Stay in one place. Imagine being found and rescued. We will be looking for you and we will find you.

In 2000 Michele Priddy left the work force to become a stay-at-home mother and wife. Being a one-income family in today’s society meant she had to learn to budget quickly. Food became a priority early because she wanted the children to have the best nutrition, she could offer them even on a budget. She also taught cooking classes on how to stretch the food dollar with simple ingredients at various churches in her community. Michelle has put her kitchen strategies and recipes in booklets, her church newsletter and in her hometown newspaper, The Goldendale Sentinel. We hope you will enjoy her strategies, stories, and recipes. You can contact the Leavenworth Echo at or 509-548-5286 if you have any questions or comments for Michelle.                                          


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