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Wild Air Healing

There is a classic picture of me in my mother’s old photo books. 6 years old. Cherry nosed, sick with the cold and flu. Bundled up in two layers of wool long underwear, scarf pulled up past my chin, bright yellow beanie pulled down to my eyes. In the picture I am wrapped in a sleeping bag and propped up on an army cot stuck in a massive drift of snow in the sharp winter sunshine and biting bitter air of a Montana February. This was the equivalent of a specialized hospital treatment room for my survivalist mother. This was wild air healing at its best.

It’s not that we were anti modern medicine. It’s that we were incredibly isolated. Sometimes the roads out of our riverside cabin were impassable. My parents were both self-employed, my dad a traveling speaker and my mom a cottage industry mail order clothing designer. This meant that there was no insurance and very little money. We made due with what we had. In this case our most powerful medicines: fresh air and sunshine. 

But perhaps, in that simplicity was the truth. I’ve reflected much on this over the last year with COVID-19 on everyone’s lips. The unsettling feeling of not knowing how to fight this novel strain for so long. Feeling helpless as we wait for those qualified to provide knowledge and resources to literally save our lives. This is not something that sits well with a survivalist, this being dependent on someone else for survival.

I am not a medical doctor. I am not a scientist, so please do not think that I am arrogant in my thoughts here. I am only speaking to my own life experience and the knowledge I’ve gained driven by my experience and curiosity. But in a society that lives indoors and on top of each other, I’m convinced that it certainly couldn’t hurt for us to try a little more wild air healing.  

History Repeats Itself

In 1918 the influenza pandemic had reached Boston Massachusetts and people were dying faster than they could be buried. Hospital beds were overflowing. Medical personal were short staffed. And triage was playing god…making decisions on who could be treated and who couldn’t. Sound familiar? History repeats itself. 

A hasty hospital was erected out of…tents. In this desperate act, medical personnel stumbled upon one of the most effective treatments anyone had found yet…air. Patients stopped dying, they started getting better. The spread slowed…The effectiveness of sunshine and fresh air on the influenza outbreak in Boston in 1918 was so prominent it prompted the Surgeon General of the Massachusetts State Guard to state,”The efficacy of open air treatment has been absolutely proven, and one has only to try it to discover its value.”

I read this and wonder….What if one of the answers to COVID-19 was here all along? Free for the taking. Literally right under our noses. What if the wild air purified by Mother Nature herself was what was meant to heal our artificially filled lungs and clear our minds and make us well? It is not the only answer…but it has to be one of them. We were made to live outside. To be healed by what was around us. We have shut it out and disconnected ourselves from its life source by building boxes to contain stale air and floors to uproot us from the ground from which we came and walls that block out the sun.

Now more than ever it’s time for less walls and more wild. Wild air. Free air. Healing air. Go outside and drink it in…it was made to heal you. 


Heather Anne was raised an adventurer, off-grid in the backwoods of Montana. Today, she is a mother to twin girls and an enthusiastic survivalist, passionate about sharing her unique skill-set with the world. Heather believes wholeheartedly in community and in living simply. She seeks to bring awareness to the importance of skill sharing and the bounty of nature over modern disconnection and consumerism. She now lives in Michigan, where she teaches at a nature based forest school and lives full-time in a Stout Tent 5M Ultimate. Her next adventure is to run the Pacific Northwest Trail which spans 1200 miles through the wilderness, high desert, and coastline. Follow her on Instagram.