June 2018

East of me, west of me, full summer.
How deeper than elsewhere the dusk is in your own yard.
Birds fly back and forth across the lawn
looking for home
As night drifts up like a little boat.

from “After Reading Tu Fu, I Go Outside to the Dwarf Orchard” by Charles Wright

Summer, sweet summer has arrived. Warm afternoons quenched with rhubarb-infused vodka happy hours. Still warm night, long after dusk, dodging mosquitoes as I carve in my garage with the door open. Humidity crawling everywhere like sweating ants and molding my birch wood waiting to be carved in the blink of an eye.

Looking at the wood, I long for the coolness of winter, but I really don’t. I love summer.

I chop billets and transform the birch logs into rough shaped spoons and spreaders day and night like a sweaty madman on a mission that I’m sure none of my neighbors, or family, really understand. I must save the wood, rough it out, and get it into the freezer. And I do. I save most of it, and the rest I’ll dry out for campfires in the days ahead.

My eyes have taken a turn for the worse and it’s getting harder to see close-up. A big handicap when it comes to carving things in detail with a sharp blade. I’m starting to feel my age, and at times, wish my body was give me a little slack every now and then. I wish I had discovered this craft a couple of decades ago when my eyes were good.

And so I accidentally cut myself. I blame my eyes, but more often than not, it’s my attention. In the end, there’s nothing like the nowness of now, yet we forget it and get distracted. That’s what I love about carving, it encourages me to be more present most of the time. And when I’m not, the blood flows. I post a bloody injury on Instagram, and it reinforces the idea that if “it bleeds, it leads” and I get a bunch of “likes” as I apply bandages to my hand. What a strange world we live in!

I went to the farm later in the month and stopped by the Norskedalen Midsummerfest. It’s a wonderful event and I love going there. I hope someday that my carving becomes good enough so I can do demos there. I saw some great woodturning there too.