The life of wood

The Cathedral Pines — if you look at the center of this photo you can see the tops of the "Cathedral" pines.

We have a huge area of pine trees that we call “the cathedral”—that’s what it feels like when you wend your way through those tall trees. They were planted years ago by the sisters, who hoped Christmas trees might provide a small financial support for them.

The quality of sound changes as you cross the threshold from sugar maples and thick understory into the needle-soft ground of the cathedral. No longer can you hear the crunch of broadleaves on the woodland floor, and even without a noticeable breeze the forty-foot high pines chant softly overhead.

But the sisters were unable to maintain this area over time, and the trees, now growing much too close to each other, are beginning to suffer from lack of sunlight. It’s time to give them a hand. We are hoping to have a portable sawmill brought in so that the trees that must be sacrificed for the good of the others can continue to be a part of our lives—this time as a three-season kitchen, a goat shed, a pole barn … we have any number of great plans that could become new home for this wood.

I was thinking about all this as I was weaving yesterday, and suddenly I became aware of all the wonderful wood surrounding me. The loom itself is nearly sixty years old, and as wood seems to do, it feels deeply “soaked” with many years of peace and meditation that a loom provides its weavers.

Bill has been busy over the past year creating wonderful tools for the loom room —

a perfect weaving bench made from old chapel prie dieux [prayer desks];

a marvelous wide pick-up stick (just to the left of the shuttles) with which I have added

Leno lace to my current placemat project;

and a warping mill, which saves me hours of work (and mistakes) in creating warps for the loom.

I have no idea of the history of the shuttles, lease sticks, and other wooden tools of this trade, but I know they have been used carefully, lovingly and creatively for many years.

All wood brings to this moment its life in a forest, and much of it has a lengthy existence beyond that—in another woman’s home, in chapel, on a wall … and who knows where else. What I do know is that wood seems to live well beyond its “death” from a forest, and that life enriches ours from seed pod to placemat.

Take a look around you, and give a little gift of thanks for the wood that shares your life.

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