wood. my life is wood these days


for some reason, while milling, my mind takes a wander to far off places. is it due to the incessant drone, that both earplugs and muffs combined seem to make no dent in, that the mind takes flight? or is it because it is somehow some sort of meditation? although, i suppose when you are meditating well, your mind is empty (right? i myself have never succeeded). i enjoy milling, i enjoy the methodicalness of it: the stacking of one more board after each cut, the tossing of scraps into the firewood pile, the lowering or raising of the ruler, the rolling on of the new log and the measuring and dogging that follows. in the rhythm of all this, my mind finds space to wander, and often heads down to the sandy meandering arizona desert of scrub cacti and towering saguaro, or the streets of oakland that john and i biked daily for a few weeks last winter. the low sun setting before we returned home for the night, downhill all the way, sometimes stopping in at the discount grocers or sprouts, looking for dinner fare or just looking. each night trying a slightly different route home.

today my mind wandered on down to winnipeg in the winter, of all places. i think it was early winter: dirty sand strewn streets from snows that had come and gone, hardened snow banks pushed up against buildings, car exhaust hovering in the cold still air. sun just set with a pale pink-grey glow in the west. i must have been driving home from work, stopped in at the organic food store in osborne village whose name currently escapes me. also made my way into the bead store three doors down, got some copper wire and strings of stones. earring hooks. a thin but hardy paisley wool blanket that i have come to love. why here, in this memory, have i decided to stop in? what inexplicable feeling was created by that random stop on a drive home from work, that it lodged steadfast in my memory, when other seemingly more important events have escaped me?

i think it’s also the time of year, i don’t know how consistent it is, but my mind spins back to what i was doing last year at this time, or just generally perhaps years past. it catalogues moments in a mental card file by month, or season, and flips back through them to reference when a new year comes around. 

or maybe it’s something else entirely. 

my life these days is wood. we’ve been milling again, as mentioned above, and the milling comes with logging. so though there is a lot of brutality, there is also time spent in the forest, with a little bit of quiet, as we select which tree we are going to cut down. it’s been mostly balsam this time with a little bit more fir, and soon we will be moving on to a couple of logs of maple and then beachcombed cedar. balsam gets these intriguing little blisters, roughly golf ball-sized, and roundish, that you can knock off with your foot or hatchet, and they are just this round little gnarl of wood. i’ve saved a few now and am looking forward to seeing what they look like with the bark off.

it’s also the firewood time of year: burning it, making sure there is enough, splitting kindling. every mill day i’ve been bringing home a few days worth of firewood in the form of mill scraps. so nice to be getting firewood done while milling! indeed there is a whole heap of firewood left at the mill site, but it will get used by carson (the mill is currently at his place) or someone else, and so isn’t really worth bringing home. 

back before we started milling, no scrap of wood was waste to me. i’d go to don’s mill site at the north end and bring back beautyfull scraps that i’d then turn into shelving or fencing or furniture…or an outhouse! but now that there is sooooo much wood around, scrap or otherwise, it’s overwhelming to even begin to take it all home. at the beginning i was, and i now have a wall of wood scrap leaning up against my bluff, gorgeous if not dimensional. perfect for a one-day project! or firewood too, i suppose. so as the wall got thicker, the reasons to bring all the gorgeous scraps home had to multiply in order to justify all of the space this wood was taking up. these days it is only really choice pieces of scrap that i bring home, and then when i get here i curse myself, wondering where in the world i am going to put them. john still thinks i’m ridiculous when i holler at him to stop as he is about to cut a perfectly good scrap of 2×4 into firewood lengths. i have had so many uses for two-foot or less pieces of 2×4 over the years, but this may be where i am headed too – to the land of excess lumber, where scraps of 2×4 are no longer the leg of a couch, but kindling for the fire.

i realize so much has piled up in the in betweens of the various big events that have taken place. hopefully a medley of photos will convey all the connections between late summer and now….


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