DIARY OF A STONE AGE CHILD
Today was the most incredible day of my life. Shall I tell you what I did?
I woke feeling cold and looked up to see my younger brother, Stoat, leaving. The fire had gone out and the deer skin that my mother, Fennel, had draped carefully over me last night had fallen off, so my bare feet could feel the chilly autumn breeze blowing in. It was time to get up. Emerging from the tipi, I looked out at the hills beyond our camp to see the sun slowly rising. I had jobs to do that morning but first I had to help my brother to gather some breakfast. We took our rabbit skin bags to the edge of the wood where the blackberries grew and filled them up to the brim. We couldn’t resist gobbling a few berries as we picked, because the hunters had not had a successful day out yesterday and we had only had a baby deer to share between our large family of twenty-four so we were ravenously hungry.
Returning to camp, everyone was glad to see us and we sat around the freshly-built fire to eat. My father, Willow, gave people jobs for the day as we filled our bellies. Since midsummer, my brother and I have been learning how to make and sharpen flint tools. It was hard work at first, but I have made spears, hand axes, hammers and arrow heads for myself and my family. We need tools to hunt, build our houses and skin animals with. Each tool is better than the last.
After I had finished making a flint spear for my eldest cousin, Fox, I took it to him proudly. He was obviously delighted and exclaimed, “Otter! What a sharp edge. I shall take this out to the hunt later and I hope that you’ll join me.” What could I say? I had never been hunting before as I am only nine. I dashed to ask my mother, who was cleaning animal skins, and she agreed that I was now old enough to join the elder men and hunt. Unfortunately, we had to wait a while until the sun was lower in the sky as the animals could rarely be seen when the sun was high.
Eventually, the time came to hunt. Feeling excited and nervous, I followed ten men a long distance from home. When I looked behind us, our camp was out of sight. We ventured beyond the river, where we saw a few children stabbing furiously at fish with their spears. Crossing the marsh, we clambered to the high land looking for signs of deer. Footprints and fresh droppings. We were in luck! Fox spotted a group of deer at the edge of some bushes. My belly rumbled and I licked my lips. Would we have venison for supper? I really hoped so. Slowly and carefully, we spread out in a circle around the beasts. My father shot the first arrow skillfully and hit a deer between the eyes. It fell to the ground, but luckily the other animals didn’t spot it. Arrows filled the air from all directions and we rushed in towards the herd with spears to finish them off. There would be plenty of meat tonight! We staggered home with five large animals between us, looking forward to the feast.
When we returned to the camp, the younger children had made nettle soup with the women, just in case there was no meat. My mother rushed up and gave me a hug. “Well done Otter, you brought them good luck in the hunt! We shall eat well tonight. Let’s have a feast!” she laughed happily. I gulped down some soup and smiled. My uncle presented me with a deer skull to wear at the hunt celebration. As the sun set, I took my place round the fire and ate more meat than I had ever eaten in my life. We sang old songs and rejoiced with a dance around the fire. Suddenly, I needed to sleep, so I crawled into my bed by the fire and tucked my toes under the deer skin. I would dream of hunting and tomorrow I would bring back another deer. What an amazing day!