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.
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.