The old time woodshop journals #40: Wandering in the woods

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Blog entry by jjw5858 posted 03-07-2013 11:00 PM 1313 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 39: Trials of the pine Part 40 of The old time woodshop journals series Part 41: Time »

I try to get out to the local parks as much as possible to have a hike along the trails and enjoy the wilderness. As you may have noticed I also enjoy doing some timber work on the outskirts of my own woods around my work shop. Funny thing this past weekend, I had cabin fever of a different kind I suppose. I was in fact feeling cooped up in the house but the actual “cabin part” was revealed to me as I did something so easy to do yet something I had not done in a such long time. I walked alone in the back woods of my home. The “cabin” portion of my fever was the remembrance of being alone in the woods when we lived in our log cabin home.

It was a wonderful escape to go wandering in the woods. The cabin was on a hill off of the river and down the long hill was all woods leading to the water. There was a main path a little roughed out with coves of roots and curious twisted trees, tons of vines, stickers and leaves. I had my little special spot to sit and think, perhaps look over my small pocket knife with wonder and a little fear while I would whittle away on a branch.

When I was 10 having a pocket knife was an almost taboo thing for my Mother to endure… But of course playing around with a swiss army knife one evening sure enough I closed the blade down in forgetfulness on my pointer finger…..ouch!!!!! A little blood, a small gash, a bandaid and I was John Wayne again in about half an hour out in the yard pretending to honor a make believe damsel in distress with my ever powerful swiss army knife. Bleedin’ hands never stopped my playtime ….pilgrim.

I sit here now, wondering of my wandering in the woods and pose the question, where did this simple innocence for today’s kids get traded away for being such soft insiders? I would answer my question with something I have brought up before, the loss of the art of make believe. When your 10 years old and have star wars figures, its up to your decision making to create a plot, adventure, game, etc. Now most video games handle all of that for us, instructing us to play in it’s set format amusing our pastime on a screen reducing the chance to move our bodies outside for needed exercise.

A small cherry tree and I look off to the frozen Hudson waiting to see the train pass on the other side.

As I moved along in the woods there was a haunting feeling mixed with a growing calm as I discovered how so many trees had been victim to past storms. It was weird, I was having flashbacks of the past walking alone as the leaves and vines skimmed my boots along the hike. Sassafras, Black Cherry, Black Locust, Hickory, Maple, Oak, what a roster of strong beauties looking towards the heavens unfolding there caution with every light breeze that whispered against there aging branches. Suddenly like that 10 year old I reached for my small buck knife and took a small sample of sassafras sap wood pausing to indulge in its perfume like aroma. If your lost in your soul a tree can surely send you home again.

Those woods have a certain way of taking your worries and putting them in a proper perspective. Unlike the child as a man my discoveries have shown me the incredible appreciation of how a wood worker can extend the lives of a tree through our craft work. Each species has a purposeful job that a skilled carpenter can use it for, to build something useful. I love the idea of taking a dieing tree, saving it before it rots, making something from it, placing it inside your home and thinking generations to come will look at it and go “who made this?” That tree may have been alive on a favorite portion of your yard, maybe a storm dropped it, a sentimental piece of your home is lost where your children played or you as a child played, but a crafts person can saw it, care for it, create something wonderful for you to still have from that fallen tree, that is a gift like nothing you can ever purchase. I love the stages of the overall process, the biggest picture that working with the wood can enlighten our knowledge and lives with.

What a site to see, as cold as it was it was warm in the best of spirits.

For my 2 cents I feel so much more of that creativity through woodwork is brought about by the art of make believe. That chair does not exist, the chair that…..YOU see in your mind. If you can see it, believe in it, you have a better chance of actually creating it. I feel here is where hand tool work is so available to push these elementary concepts into our wood working routine. When we have so much of the information readily available to us that in some way we have lost our own plot, adventure, or originality. Instant satisfying results do not exist in this arena, only testing the seas of your inner instincts. Practice beyond practice will make those chisels cut efficiently, that spokeshave chamfer, the hand saw cut a respectable line. Although I would strongly suggest this same approach with machines as well, stepping outside the lines and creating your own vision is a satisfying process. Going beyond the pre-calculations of digital data and seeing something of your very own.

Our current world provides an amazing amount of quick information, incredible leaps and bounds, heartbreaks, and unexplainable events. As much as the human has gained I am not so sure our surrounding planets give a dam. I suppose the galaxies groove through the flow of cosmic darkness tending to their voyages awaiting our existence to end. Our time here on earth seems immense to us, but it is a mere short visit to the planets, galaxies and dark matter that travel through the timepiece of our universe.

But are we destined to upload our very own demise through additional tweets, status updates, and phones that enable you to watch the game while you forget how lost you have become without all of these gadgets in the first place?

Those still frozen tiles were wicked and sharp telling a tale, awaiting for dark.

I sure hope that any new members reading take time to look at the work on lumberjocks, I think many of these projects displayed on these pages are a true example of inspiration and creativity.

Well, I guess there are only so many questions to ponder, ideas to wonder, and better days to rid off the bad. So it’s back on the trail towards happier days, I am off to those woods once again!

Enjoy your path!


-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW

9 comments so far

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 2978 days

#1 posted 03-07-2013 11:09 PM

those are some cool pictures Joe. it’s nice to get out and get some fresh air and exercise.
then back home to warm up

View Brit's profile


7374 posts in 2838 days

#2 posted 03-07-2013 11:20 PM

Wonderful woods, wonderful river, wonderful thoughts, wonderful mind. Keep thinking.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Woodwrecker's profile


4148 posts in 3571 days

#3 posted 03-07-2013 11:56 PM

But I have no illusions that the past in which I relished my imagination and resourcefulness is all but gone.
It is sad, but true.
I wouldn’t trade my memories of riding my bike all day long during the summer when I was a kid for anything.

-- Eric, central Florida / Utor praemia operibus duris

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 2403 days

#4 posted 03-08-2013 12:24 AM

Good blog and know this…..because of technology, you have elightened and entertained many many people you have never and will never meet in person but we are kindred souls in what we do. God speed brother.

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View KelvinGrove's profile


1996 posts in 1908 days

#5 posted 03-08-2013 01:56 AM

The age of the elves and dwarfs is passing away, and the age of man is come….

I sure understand what you saw.

-- Tim P. Calhoun GA. If traffic is passing you on the right, YOU ARE IN THE WRONG DAMN LANE.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2685 days

#6 posted 03-08-2013 02:29 AM

Very thought provoking post. I agree with you about the kids of today. That’s why my granddaughter goes on a “walkabout” in the woods every time she’s here. I’m tryin.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2852 days

#7 posted 03-08-2013 09:06 AM

John, er Joe,
great story I could see my breath as I read your tale.
Nature is a wondrous place, inspiration all around.

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View jjw5858's profile


1135 posts in 2597 days

#8 posted 03-08-2013 01:55 PM

Thanks everyone for taking the time to read my work. Great to hear from all of you!

-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW

View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3147 days

#9 posted 03-08-2013 04:06 PM

Great pics Joe, I can almost smell the crisp clean air.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

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