bonsai-treeLiving in Japan for a few months was quite the eye opener for a simple Mid-Western wood worker, such as myself. I went with a hungry mind and excited spirit at the prospects of learning about a different culture. My real motivation to commit three months to a land half way around the world was curiosity about the Bonsai.

I fell in love with the graceful and delicate lines the Japanese incorporated into the art of growing these miniature trees. I could study at home, but what I really wanted, was to immerse myself into the mindset that created such beauty. I landed at Narita International Airport on a dreary day and tired from the trip.

I wanted to get to my Ryokan and just stretch out for a while before heading into the bustle of the city. When my taxi turned down the narrow street leading to my hotel, I noticed a tow truck hauling a rather expensive car out of the lane. I realized that life goes on no matter if it’s Stuebenville, Ohio or Tokyo, Japan. It may have been unkind to find comfort in someone’s else’s “bad day”, but somehow witnessing this ordinary event set me at ease.

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forest-angels-rozaliana-thongmeeThis post is a very personal one. I don’t often share such private information, but today has been an exceptional day and so a good one to share something exceptional with our readers.

It doesn’t pay to have a closed mind. On a warm Autumn night a few years back, I had my mind opened even more by an old Mayan woman about a subject I already knew a lot about – wood. She gave me the opportunity to view the forest and see wood from a non-ordinary perspective.

In full disclosure, I did ingest any mind altering drugs to get a peek into another dimension of wood, but my mind did get to expand to a place that included the forest’s etheric guardians. I was thrilled, and overwhelmed that I had been given a new take on an old friend. Honestly, it was a bit psychedelic. That night I was taught to see the Angelic Kingdom and its collaborative partnership with Nature.

My niece, Janis is a Forest Ranger, stationed in Colorado Rocky Mountain National Park. I envy her sometimes and others – not so much. It’s a tough job that never ends as the forest is a living, breathing environment. If an imbalance occurs and pest control is needed it’s her job to address the issue. She told me of an upcoming group that would be passing through in a couple of days and asked me to join them for the evening at the central park lodge.

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tree_farmOur unconscious love affair with wood has taken it from a thing of utility to a thing of art and back again. I have no doubt that this cycle will continue ad infinitum. Wherever you cast your eyes you are likely to see something that is constructed from wood. We take it for granted.

Last week I noticed a damp spot in the front yard that for several days seemed to get worse. I called out a leak detection company. The inspection showed the beautiful willow tree in the front yard had wrapped its roots around a sewage pipe carrying waste from the house. It nearly broke my heart to hear that the tree would be irreparably damaged because of the sewer repair that was necessary to fix the leaking pipe. I had gazed at and admired that old tree for nearly two decades and the thought of losing it hit home in more ways than one.

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dominic-kovalI was a teenager when I took my first wood working class. I knew from the moment I walked into the classroom and smelled the sweet, aromatic combination of wood, glue and stains that I was home. I ended each school day with at least an hour in the shop crafting something – anything.

Even at the end of the school week, I never minded that the Waterloo party bus filled with classmates going off to the Friday night football game was loudly loading up and I wasn’t on board. I wanted to stay and design, cut shave and stain whenever Mr. Dowds, our shop teacher would let me.

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