I spend a lot of the time in the woods each weekend, catching up on my botany. I’ve always enjoyed woodworking, but as I concentrated on “making a living” through the years, I didn’t make much effort to fully enjoy those things that I was once passionate about. (I was a biology major in college.)
I have become very passionate about understanding the woods I use in my hobbies – everything from recognizing them in their natural environment, to studying their microscopic anatomical structure. I have come a long way in a little over a year. I still have a long way to go, but the journey is fascinating and very energizing!! A nice side benefit to the frequent hiking is that I’ve lost 30 pounds, and feel better than I have in 20 years.
Saturday morning, I spent over 4 hours hiking, taking photographs, and recording my observations. I was also fortunate to find a couple of small trees that were casualties of storm damage, from which I collected a couple of nice walking stick blanks. One was a Black Cherry. The other I believe to be a Cucumbertree (Magnolia acuminata). The leaves are alternate, simple, ovoid with an accuminate tip, dark glossy green above and pale green below. There were no flowers or fruit on it yet. The flaky bark is soft, and reddish brown underneath. The sapwood is creamy white, with tight grain. I cut a sample from the end of the stick for experimentation, and the wood carves like butter.
Here are a couple shots of the Cucumbertree:
I am eagerly awaiting my next jaunt into the local forests. There is always something new to see and learn!