October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

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Dathi
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 16 Oct 2012, 12:07

The seminar continues with further musings. I was going to post these all at once, but I figure a series of seasonal / themed postings may make more sense. Given that the samhain fire festival is just around the corner, lets put some ideas out.

Samhain:

Trees: Ngetal – Reed ( Cordage making, foraging) Ruis - Elder (Blow-darts, bushcraft bling, drinking straws)

Other Symbolism: The Stone. The Raven. Apples.
Festivals: November 1. New Year, winter begins. All Souls / Hallows / Saints. Halloween
Samonios Samhain "Summer's End"? "Seed-Fall"? October/November
Dumannios Dumhainn "Dark Month"? "The Darkest Depths"? November/December

Transition from Summer to Winter. Preparation for the dark and cold months. Cleansing by fire / Bonfires. Stacking firewood. Carving – pumpkins, turnips & wood. Enjoy autumnal colours. Seed saving. Brewing. Bare-root tree planting.

Samhain coincides (incorporates?) with the ancient Roman festival of Pomona's Day ( Honoring, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees) hence traditions of apple bobbing. As we all know, apples were the Druid’s fruit. And although it’s a wee bit late, this is a good time to learn about apples. Anyone ever made any cider?

Fire
's fhearr teine beag a gharas na teine mór a loisgeas
("Better a small fire that warms you than a big fire that burns you")

“Playing with fire” is fun. Lighting a fire and using it for warmth, cooking and company allows us to build our energies. And as always, SITUATIONAL AWARENESS. Can you control it? What impact will it have? Do you have an emergency plan? I am always a bit uneasy with campers and bushcrafters who build or use fire near their shelters / tents. Some crazy things include using candles in tents! Or having a blazing fire close to a leaf-mould shelter.

Fire Activities
Fire starting. Fire gazing. Cooking. Fire safety. Blacksmithing.
A clip from from a special bloke, Callie ("badged" SF Operator / Chaplain):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xz9F1gRQ ... ure=relmfu

When all is said and done about fire lighting, nothing beats an el-cheapo lighter. The old rubbing sticks method is arduous and time consuming. Likewise the flint and iron method. In a survival situation you don't want to be messing about. If you need fire for warmth, cooking, light, signalling or protection.... you need it quickly.
Nonetheless, other methods are fun and more primal / authentic / primitive. Here is a fire steel in action. You need a firm working base and proper preparation (tinder, small sticks, bigger sticks etc). Later I'll post some pikkies of a simple (and very effective) "hobo stove".
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As you can see, the steel generates some seriously hot / intense sparks. If your tinder is good (fine and dry), a quick fire will get going.
dfire1.JPG
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How NOT to do it: http://www.naturalbushcraft.co.uk/forum ... watch-this
:owlhorn:
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby minerva5 » 17 Oct 2012, 07:59

Just writing to say congrats on the Bushcraft seminar. I grew up on the Sussex Downs and spent lots of time as a child lying on the short Downland grass looking at the trefoils, vetches etc or staring at the clouds. Bushcraft can also be achieved when totally immobile! I found I could connect with the living land of the chalk that way, so the augury section of the seminar is v. interesting.There's a lot of philosophy in the clouds.
As a woman I don't have a great attachment to the metal tools thing , but use of plants and foraging rings lots of bells. It's an Autumn ritual to gather blackberries and make jelly also collecting hazelnuts if the squirrels don't get there first.
I have found that you can start bushcraft v. early by taking your children for walks in the country (whether they want to go or not). They absorb a lot of information, history and techniques without noticing and building "bases" in the woods appeals to most children, male or female which they thank you for later, so all you parents out there , put on your wellies and off you go! :)

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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 17 Oct 2012, 10:34

Yes Minerva, so right you are about many things. "Bushcraft" has many facets, but the best of all is getting kids out into the wilds. This is the greatest service we can provide to following generations. And they love it!!!!

At the moment, the bushcraft I dabble is is fun stuff, hobbiest if you will, an adjunct to forestry. I am somewhat bemused by the growth of bushcraft as an "industry". The kinds of "messing about in the bush" things that I (and I suspect, the bulk of people on DHP) did as youngsters have now been codified, commercialised and even professionalised. And the vast bulk of this is "just messing".
At the other extreme is the serious stuff. I dunno if Atrius is still around, but serious "survival" bushcraft is a different league all together. What I can recall from "survival" situations I have been in, is that it has nothing to do with the fancy kit you have, the expensive axe or knife. It has everything to do with dogged fortitude, iron will, and the ability to chug along one aching foot at a time. Survival is a brutal business, and is all about preparing violent counter measures against creatures and people who may wish you harm, or using the easiest possible method to obtain necessities of life. Not at all neo Druidy, but probably quite familiar to our Druid ancestors. It's not about kit, it's all about will, awareness & knowledge. Through all my army years, I had nothing fancier than a battered Swiss army knife (with a broken tip), and this sufficed for everything from opening cans, fixing electrics and equipment, preparing food, minor surgery, trimming nails, and sharpening sticks.

Seasonal bushcraft has direct roots to our ancient (Pagan) past. You mentioned the Autumn ritual of collecting blackberries. There are many such events, and some have a very ritualistic format. These stretch waaay back in time. Blaeberry Sunday is still big around here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTX2olkdBNo

Regarding the metal tools, let's not forget that Brigit was also the Goddess of Blacksmithing. You mention the chalk Downs. Ahaa, a source of flint for making stone tools. Next on the project agenda. Inspiration here: http://www.stoneagetools.co.uk/ and here: http://www.ancientcraft.co.uk/Flintknapping/flint.html

More about augery to follow.
:owlhorn:
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby DaRC » 17 Oct 2012, 12:44

Ahaa, a source of flint for making stone tools.
A favourite moment of mine was up on the Downs - flints had sliced a hole in my tyre on a hot, dusty day. The light colour of the tracks up there, the chalky clay mud dries hard and almost white, in the full heat of summer can turn it into a bit of a furnace.

The source of trouble became the source of salvation; I carry spares & tools when cycling up there but no knife. To get the tyre to work (i.e. without the inner tube bursting through the hole) I needed to chop another inner tube up to get a patch to cover the hole in the tyre and get us off the top & into the cool of the woods and thence home.

So I knapped a flint, got a blade, chopped said innertube, patched the hole and off we rode..... All this not far from Cissbury Ring and it's neolithic flint mines |-)
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby minerva5 » 17 Oct 2012, 17:48

You are so right about flints. They contain many ideas. I have found round hollow flints in my garden which, when opened contain space surrounded by crystals. Like a little world! I went to a flint knapping course at Oxford University a while ago, this was excellent. I find a hammer much easier to use than another stone, is this modern technology?? Using flints as borers you can make some lovely candle holders for rituals out of lumps of chalk. It really brings the Spirit of the land into your home!
On another tack, I'm definately a comfort bushcrafter, hole in the groung loos are not for me. But walking in the countryside by day or by night is just what I like; is this bushcraft too?
Survival techniques are another thing altogether. I grew up in the 60s and 70s when there was a real danger of some idiot making the western world go bang and lots of people were building shelters and stockpiling cans of baked beans. Nowadays, I feel that survival techniques need to be much more people based , with psychological techniques to get what you feel is necessary is far more to the point than owning a Kalashnikov and knowing how to build a bender! Look into my eyes ... you are feeling sleepy... What do you think?
And Dathi, I also look forward to more augury, Things are happening to my mind since I started this course that take me on a metaphysical path.

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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 17 Oct 2012, 21:12

Minerva5, the path you suggest is well trodden. Ever see the movie "The Men Who Stare at Goats"? Whilst veering slightly from the topic of "bushcraft" to survivalist themes (and no harm in a bit of that). There is no doubt that psychological resilience is the prime factor in survival. The question is how to develop this. I think all aspects of the OBOD course (all the bits I've seen so far) are an excellent preparation for challenging times. There are thousands of posts on DHP attesting to that!

It may seem strange that many of the techniques we are familiar with have been tested (and some adopted) by various military / rescue / extreme survival organisations. A pioneer in this space is Lt Col Jim Channon and a browse through some of his philosophies / techniques / strategies makes for fascinating reading. The First Earth Battalion Wikipedia page is a good start (Including links to his original work). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Earth_Battalion The Feb 200 edition of the Journal of Non-lethal Combatives http://ejmas.com/jnc/jncart_channon_0200.htm contains much common sense, and has a distinctly "Druidic" flavour.

Bushcraft activities allow us Druids to develop the inner "Warrior Monk" ethos and skills.

One aspect of bushcraft involves moving lightly on the earth. This may involve camouflague & concealment, and stealthy movement. It is useful to remember the factors that can give your presence away, these usually listed as the 7 S's: Shape, shine, shadow, silhouette, sudden movement, sound, spacings. Being attuned to these, and practicing stealthy & mindful movement is excellent Druidic practice. The starting point is this exercise:

Next time you are outdoors. Block your ears with a finger, and walk as you normally would. Listen to the galumphing sounds you make reverberating through the earth!!!
Next you can try walking more mindfully, or try walking toe-heel rather than the usual heel-toe, or try walking on the outer edge of your feet.

And why is stealth good Druid bushcraft practice? You automatically begin to tune into your environment, and also get to see more of the nature around you. Good fun too.
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby minerva5 » 18 Oct 2012, 12:41

Thank you for your reply, it has given me so much to think about I think my brain might explode. Still they say you can eat the whole world if you take small enough bites!. What you said about blending in with your surroundings means a lot; I also spend most of my time gallumphing through life,I was born a "rush at-er" and it'd so hard to be a "float gently-er", learning to stop and listen is one of my hardest tasks. I probably won't appear here for a while as I've got a lot of thinking to do. I appreciate the time you've taken to talk to me. xx Min :where:

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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 20 Oct 2012, 06:29

Good luck with the slowing down Minerva. A case of "Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits" being needed!!!

And in case of overload.... here is a bit more. I was in some exceptionally well managed woodland recently, and what follows are some examples of good practice in "getting the balance right". Remember the forester I quoted above "All this environmental work has got to be paid for somehow"? Well, here are examples of how it can be done. This is REALLY important stuff!!! I was musing about several issues during this foresters walk.

I came across a staggering statistic recently. There are more registered farmers in Ireland who are aged over 80, than there are under 35. It does not take much reflection to see how scary this is. I have spent a bit of time in rural France..... similar patterns. The Creuse Departement had seen it's population decline by a quarter between 1960 and 1999, and the average age in the village I've stayed in is 55. This "drift from the land" has all sorts of implications for food security, environmental protection, and quality of life. So cities are full of young people scrambling for decreasing numbers of jobs, whilst the land is either lying idle, or is being ravaged by industrial agro-business.

I read another recent statistic. Only 2% of surveyed farmers in Ireland have engaged with farm diversification / alternate land-use enterprises.

Maybe I'm being a bit blinkered, but there are some logical connections here. If woodlands are actively worked, local economic activity is stimulated, communities are not depleted of people, and the environment ultimately benefits. Woodlands offer huge untapped economic potential (not least of all in smart renewable energy), and what follows are some good practices. Not exactly "bushcraft", but more like woods-craft. It's not "leave no trace", but "make a positive holistic impact".

First pikkie depicts a 12 yr old Oak tree with an offshoot marked for coppicing. The timber is taken for various uses, whilst the young tree can grow straight, big and strong.
dboakthin.JPG
Oak
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The next two pikkies show timber products being "left to nature". The pile of brush eventually decomposes, but in the mean time provides a habitat encouraging all sorts of bio-diversity.
dbbrush.JPG
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Whilst this sacrificial pile of logs (which could have been bagged and sold for firewood) serves as a 5 Star "Bug Hotel" and a cache for red squirrels to stash their winter supply of food.
dbbugs.JPG
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 20 Oct 2012, 06:41

Some great work is being done in Scotland by these folk: http://www.reforestingscotland.org/ (I have a notion that there is an OBODie in the mix there somewhere).

Below is the stool of a coppiced hazel tree. Look at all the new shoots. In 5 years time these can be harvested. Each successive rotation will be more prolific. The gift that keeps on giving.
dbcoppicestool.JPG
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Coppiced timber (as stakes) can be used to give the next generation of saplings a better chance.
dbstakes.JPG
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Or be used for fencing.
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 20 Oct 2012, 06:57

A formally denuded hedgerow has been protected from grazing, restored, and now provides a wildlife corridor between fields.
Hedgerows are very important for all sorts of reasons: http://www.hedgerows.co.uk/ Not least of all for providing a foraging larder for all. Anyone been following Fergus the Forager? http://www.wildmanwildfood.com/
dbcorridor.JPG
wildlife corridor
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And in this two-way partnership, Mother Nature helps out. Manual weed control (creating local employment) allows natural regeneration. Here a young mini ash forest gets going.
dbminiforest.JPG
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And the reward for good husbandry of the land is timber products for various uses.
dbpaid.JPG
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It all makes sense!!!
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Gwion » 20 Oct 2012, 11:36

Thank you for a very interesting seminar. Unfortunately, as I expect is the case with many readers in the UK, the opportunities to put it into practice are somewhat limited. Although I live on the edge of a town with some ancient woodland only a few minutes walk away and wild areas of Dartmoor and Exmoor within “day trip” reach, all these areas are owned and doing much more than walking and a bit of foraging there would soon cause legal problems.

For those like me who would like to get a little hands-on practical and sympathetic work on the land in the UK, can I suggest contacting your local Wildlife Trust?
(http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/) They have many opportunities to get involved with things like coppicing, brush-clearing etc and, if you wanted a few pieces of coppiced wood at the end of the day they may let you take some away with you.

There may also be some opportunities on a more local level such as one that’s been set up in my neighbourhood – essentially a suburban housing estate with a few areas of “common land”
(https://sites.google.com/site/sylvaniaecp/about). It may come across initially as a local litter-clearing group but a look at the “Maintenance and development plans” pdf and the statement “Conservation of the wildlife in the area is a matter of utmost concern to us” shows it to be much more. The felling of larger diseased/dangerous trees has been done by contractors but the rest of the clearing, bird/bat-box making and “bug hotel” and dry hedge manufacture has been done by the local residents. With some (native) saplings already planted and grants for up to 300 new trees as well as plans for a mini wild flower meadow it may not be Davy Crockett territory but it’s bringing the anima loci to exuberant life!

So thanks again to Dathi for an inspiring seminar and if you’re feeling enthused but frustrated – see what’s available even if you don’t have an accessible public “wilderness”.
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Whitemane » 20 Oct 2012, 16:38

Wonderful stuff and many thanks to Dathi :applause:

He has opened the door to a key feature of Druidry: love and care for nature, and to ways for Druids to contribute to society.

Even if you can't go out into the wilds yourself, you can work with conservation groups and the like. Get your hands dirty and look at how you could apply some of these lessons, and while you're out there, just love and wonder.
May the long time sun shine upon you,
All love surround you,
And the pure light within you,
Guide your way on.

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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 20 Oct 2012, 18:57

Greetings Whitemane, Gwion and others,

Getting involved is not as hard as it seems. Mindful that this is an international community, there are groups all over the world involved in outdoor and conservation activities. An extra set of hands (no matter the skill attached to them) is invariably made welcome. My experience has been that this sort of activity attracts some of the nicest people you could want to meet. Some organisations like the Conservation Volunteers (UK, NI, Aus, NZ, Canada etc.) provide a range of training opportunities. The Forest School movement has great opportunities to learn and passon your own skills. I've not done any courses with this bunch, but I've heard universally good things about them: http://www.forestschools.com/
The Institute for Outdoor Learning http://www.outdoor-learning.org/Default.aspx?tabid=40 has much to offer.
Centre for Alternative Technologies has interesting stuff: http://courses.cat.org.uk/woodland-and-crafts
As with the Ancient Technology Centre (where I believe you could bump into the odd DHP'er) http://www.ancienttechnologycentre.co.uk/

In the US, these guys do great stuff: http://wildernessawareness.org/

And for engaging kids with the outdoors, a few books are recommended:
http://www.coyotesguide.com/

Last Child in the Woods: http://richardlouv.com/books/last-child/
I Love My World: http://www.wholeland.org.uk/about/

And of course, OBOD itself, is a route to lots of options:
http://www.druidry.org/events-projects/ ... -programme
With a special plug for OBOD Camps where loads of skilled and knowledgable people hang out: http://www.obodcamps.moonfruit.com/


There are umteen private training providers in this space.

And by the time I've finished this seminar, this thread will be nearly a blimming book. I think I bit off a bit more than everyone can chew. I still have to finish elements and seasons. Ah well. "the oxen are slow, but the earth is patient".

Oh, and I heard a great quote testerday. "If two foresters are in agreement, one of them must be wrong". That's the beauty of nature and the wild. There are an infinite number of ways to do things "out there".
:owlhorn:
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 21 Oct 2012, 17:53

Related to some discussions above. I'm writing a report for work tomorrow and have come across another factoid. This "drift from the land" is scary and sad!

Employment in Farming, Forestry & Fishing (UK).
The workforce is ageing, with 55 per cent of individuals in the sector aged over 45,
compared with 38 per cent across all sectors. The number of individuals in the sector aged
over 60 increased from 57,000 in 2002 to 84,000 in 2010. The under-25 age group declined
over the period by 1.9 per cent per annum on average compared with one per cent growth
across the whole economy.
http://www.lantra.co.uk/Downloads/Resea ... -2012.aspx

This places "hobby" bush / woodland craft, environmental volunteerism (like the excellent Silvanian project mentioned above), forest schools, allotmenteering, and the outdoor / environmental aspects of OBOD etc. in a far more important position than it may appear at first glance.
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 22 Oct 2012, 14:49

Just a quick addition. I had become deeply cynical about (some) development agencies working in the 3rd World (Having spent more than 17 years training folk in aspects of remote area working). The white pick-up brigade of arrogant dilettantes swanning about on 3 month stints believing that they are saving the world. Grrr.

But there are some excellent and practical organisations out there, and these guys were recently brought to my attention. I'd say that if you were looking to add some ironmongery to your toolkit, this would be the way to go: http://www.tfsrcymru.org.uk/about
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 22 Oct 2012, 20:37

And, just for Twig (and others), :whistle:

On the trail; an outdoor book for girls (1915)
http://archive.org/details/ontrailanoutdoo00beargoog
(Some great stuff in here).
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 29 Oct 2012, 19:19

Fantastic TV series here: Tales from the Wild Wood.

Lots of the issues discussed above are illustrated practically.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... Episode_1/
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Bracken » 29 Oct 2012, 20:08

It's the last few days before our next seminar, folks, although this seminar will live permanently in the TREASURE TROVE where I will move it to on the last day of this month.

We've just got enough time to give Dathi a huge round of applause and heap thanks upon him for a really wonderful seminar. :clap:
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Whitemane
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Joined: 19 Jan 2012, 21:21
Gender: Male
Location: Columbus, OH, USA
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Whitemane » 30 Oct 2012, 11:37

It's the last few days before our next seminar, folks, although this seminar will live permanently in the TREASURE TROVE where I will move it to on the last day of this month.

We've just got enough time to give Dathi a huge round of applause and heap thanks upon him for a really wonderful seminar. :clap:
:applause: :applause: :applause:
May the long time sun shine upon you,
All love surround you,
And the pure light within you,
Guide your way on.

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mark the compost elf
OBOD Ovate
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Location: wigan, well crankwood really
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby mark the compost elf » 30 Oct 2012, 14:10

HHHHHHUUUUUUGGGGGGEEEEEEEE CCCCCLLLLLAAAAAAPPPPPPPP - I applaud you and it sounds as thought the sky gods do too from the thunder at the start of this post.

Loved every line of this seminar.
From decay comes growth, fungal or otherwise. All stages of death are filled with life and life to be. Creation is made up of ugly beauty that is gorgeous to those who can feel as well as they can see.


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