The more you walk, the better you feel, the more relaxed you become, the more you sense, the better you think, the less mental clutter you accumulate. And it’s the uncluttered man who is the happy man.
— Aaron Sussman and Ruth Goode, The Magic of Walking (1967)
We’ve had some idyllic fall days lately, and I’ve been walking. I’ve never been much of a driver, runner, or biker. In fact, I’m bad at all three. Walking suits me better, and it gives me a chance to get off the beaten path and explore. On these crisp late afternoons with the sun bright but low, I’m struck by the effect of shadows and the contrast of color between the landscape and the sky. With the leaves gone, drupe clusters stand out like ornaments on the velvety branches of the staghorn sumacs.
Even on familiar routes, there is always something new to notice. Grasses turn golden, the river rises and falls, ….
….and the most impressive woodworkers of all leave beautiful toolmarks.
And an added bonus is that I sometimes find spoons. Well, spoonwood at least. There are spoons is those gleaming sycamore branches, but I won’t be climbing up there (FYI: I see that Peter Follansbee recently made some great spoons from sycamore). There’s wood to be found on the ground. I’ll sometimes come across areas where right-of-ways have been cleared, windblown branches, logged areas, or even beaver-harvested trees. In any case, I look for spoons in the branch crooks, and I carry a folding saw in my pack.
Once I’m home, I like to use a froe to split them up into spoon blanks. I follow with the axe work, usually right away, then keep the hewn blanks in a plastic bag in the fridge or freezer until I’m ready to continue with the knives.
I should be finishing a couple bowls in the evenings, but a nearby recently-cleared hillside has been offering up some great branch crooks and I haven’t been able to resist working on a bunch of spoons. And whether you’re carving spoons or walking, it’s easy to lose track of time.
Walking is indeed, one of life’s great pleasures. Walkers see and experience so much more, and have a serener pace of life.
Sounds like you would love the book I quoted at the beginning of the post. I stumbled upon a used copy years ago, and I think the book is a real gem. I keep going back to it. Not only does it discuss both the philosophical and practical aspects of walking, but the last half of the book is a collection of excerpts pertaining to walking from classic literature and great writers.
I took a quick look online, and there are several copies available for very little cash.
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Bravo! Its the best part of my day to loose myself on a walk through the ever changing forests of our neck of the woods.
Whoa. Those cherry crooks are perfect. I’ve been carving spoons from straight-grained wood lately for a dearth of crooks. And fall is the best time of year for a good walk, my favorite season.
I too have been walking around outside more and enjoying nature! I live in Prince Edward Island, Canada, and though we have had a lot of rain, the fall has been nice here. I have been carving for about a year and a half now. No training, just a lot of trial and error! I love your work!
Lovely, David. Thanks for this. At my school we give exams prior to Thanksgiving, so the piles of grading are building up. Your post reminds me to get outside and clear my thoughts.