March 29, 2011
We moved out here when I was in the second grade. On the short list for us, as conscripted child labor, was the beautification of the front yard. The yard was full of sweet gum trees and small pines. My mother hates pine trees..
The first order of business was the leveling and filling in of the yard itself. Dump truck after dump truck came in with top soil and left what turned out to be one of the best places imaginable to play army, when it wasn't raining. There was no renting or borrowing of bobcats back then.. We had to do it all with shovels...
During this process my mother said something about azaleas. She wanted a bed of azaleas on the side of the yard. The prep for the azalea bed was my task. I went about gathering large stones and making a huge circle, then I filled it in with top soil. She bought some plants and proceeded to place them all about the circle. That was about 1974... Nothing has ever been done to them since, no watering, no fertilizer, nothing.. Every year they spring back to life and bloom bigger than before. We were walking a couple of weeks ago and she spotted a sweet gum tree growing in the middle of the bed.
"That needs to come out of there.."
Which is mom code, for remove that tree, sooner rather than later.
When I appeared a few days later with a saw, I noticed that a walking stick could be made from the tree.. I cut it down, brought it home and began working. Once the piece was cut and the limbs removed I sat it to the side and started the clean up. One of the extra pieces caught my eye and I cut it down to size. I decided to leave a few of the small limbs on it and carve it as it was.
When you can get each piece you make from the place you have lived for your entire life it makes each one a treasure. I have watched this one grow, just as most of the wood I use. To put what talent you have into something makes it that much sweeter but, with each piece I make, there is a bit of the history of this place that goes along with it... and that makes all the difference.