I was fortunate enough to be invited to share some green wood spoon carving skills out in Cabot, Vermont last month. Along with blacksmith Lucian Avery ( www.lucianaveryblacksmith.com ) who began the day with an intensive lesson on knife sharpening, the event was hosted by Ben and Penny Hewitt as one of a series of workshops planned for their venture Lazy Mill Living Arts ( www.lazymilllivingarts.com ). According to its website, Lazy Mill is “…dedicated to reviving traditional skills of hand and land.”
What a beautiful day it was. The sun was trying to warm that last day of February through the crisp blue skies, but it was not really succeeding. Inside, the house began to fill with people and so began a fantastic morning and afternoon of doing, interrupted only by one of the best lunches I have ever eaten. I always know it’s been a great day of wood working when I forget to drink water along the way because I’m so engaged in activity. The floor had to be swept up several times to keep from losing tools among the accumulating wood chips. I believe I saw discovery, enthusiasm, and determination on the faces; I know I saw a few Band-Aids on the hands.
Every time I’m involved in skill sharing, I remember the interconnected pathways that brought me up to this present moment, and the special people along the way who sparked and ignited this interest in and connection to the pre-industrial era past. Simultaneously, I never forget a caution I heard from a fellow Goddard student, who checked my high-flying romanticism for all things “old-timey” by advising me of the benefits of electric light in the barn enjoyed by his grandfather when it finally came to his road in Maine. Certainly these patchwork-acts of reaching backwards across the arc of time for a tool to make with, instead of a dollar to buy with, can only have beneficial results for us as people. In the case of the spoon, I experience a daily reminder as I stir or eat, that the hand, the tool, and the eye can still remember how to work in harmony. No matter how many thousands of years of metallurgic wisdom and experience are packed into the blade, tools, like communities of interests, are still merely the means by which we reach for something else…
With much gratitude for the invitation!