The Smell of Sawdust

My Paw Paw Kelly (grandfather) liked to work with wood. He had a workshop in a shed beyond the swing set and the garden. He would make fanciful things mostly. My favorite was a little girl in a red dress sitting on a swing. He hung her in the front yard from a tree, and she always made me feel welcomed whenever we visited his bosky home.

Like Paw Paw (and my creative Maw Maw), I’ve always found working with my hands interesting. I like to learn new things and shape something into something else. Sewing, painting, photography, gardening, woodworking, writing, and so on: they all stem from a need to make.

Humans are awesome that way. But, sometimes we make without conscious planning. We gather our materials without wondering about where they came from or how they are created.

My friend Silas Kyler made it his mission to remind us. He took his passion for woodworking and turned it into a beautiful documentary called Felled and a how-to book called The Art and Craft of Wood: A Practical Guide to Harvesting, Choosing, Reclaiming, Preparing, Crafting, and Building with Raw Wood. Both offer a glimpse into craftsmanship from start to finish and a real plea to look at the possibilities in things we take for granted. Like the Lorax, Silas and his colleagues “speak for the trees” and speak through them.

Like my grandfather, they are carrying on a tradition as old as civilization.

I love that smell of sawdust, it evokes so many memories… and possibilities.

These Roots Were Made for Growing

Trees of All Kinds

Now is the summer of my discontent.

This is the time of year that I loathe above all others. While people in non-desert locales complain of 80-degree temperatures mixed with (arguably heavy) moisture, the people of the Sonoran try desperately to avoid passing out in 108 degrees with little relief on the horizon. It’s especially difficult this year. The heat came in like a fire bolt. Frankly, none of us would survive here without the miracle of modern refrigeration. But even with that comfort, I am a miserable, dried husk of a person. I’m made even more miserable because that is not my normal state. I like to move. I like to explore. And I like having possession of all of my faculties. Summers have longer days, but it feels as if time has been sapped from us. Some people adapt better than others. I’ve been here for 20 years; I’m working on it.

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