Liking Lichens


What is produced by a free stroke charms us, like the forms of lichens and leaves. There is a certain perfection in accidents which we never consciously attain.

— Henry David Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

A delightful side effect of spoon carving is a walk through the woods.   Not that an excuse for a walk is needed, but it’s a good one nonetheless.  On a walk after a windstorm earlier this month, I found a big cherry tree lying on the ground, a victim of the gale.  I was able to collect a few crooks from among the branches and carry them home in my pack.

The branches of that cherry tree were teeming with life, life so common and quiet that I usually overlook it.  But as I prepared to split the few pieces I brought home that day, I took a moment to appreciate it up close.  That was followed by a moment of realization that I didn’t know squat about this (a feeling I’ve become familiar with).  Thankfully, there are lichen people.  Here are a couple videos featuring them and fascinating information about lichens to add even more interest to your next stroll and/or spoon foray:

The link to the other one is here.  There are lots of lichen people in Scotland.

I was eventually able to return to the crooks themselves, getting a few cherry blanks ready for the axe.  These are much further along now, and soon I’ll have them and some other spoons finished.


Some, however, didn’t make it.  Who put that open knot there?!


These aren’t the sort of accidents Thoreau wrote about.

This entry was posted in finding wood, green woodworking, nature, quotes and excerpts, spoons, trees, Uncategorized, video and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Liking Lichens

  1. Kalia Kliban says:

    I recommend this book to everyone, but your comments about lichens make me think you’d especially enjoy it. “The Forest Unseen,” by David George Haskell, is some of the finest nature writing I’ve ever encountered, and much of it is about the small and unconsidered parts of the landscape like lichens, ants, springtails and fungi. Trust me on this one.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Scott Thomas says:

    The bottom two look so close, yet so far away. I would guess maybe you don’t have many turn out this way. “The Forest Unseen” does sound like an enjoyable book to locate.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dave Fisher says:

    I have to toss spoons aside all the time, Scott. When working with crooks, there are actually a fair number that turn out to have hidden surprises. It’s well worth the risk though, and any issues show up early on, usually. Even with these two, they aren’t really very far along at all in terms of time, but I should have noticed sooner. Learn, then move on to the next one…


    • Scott Thomas says:

      Good advice. As I finally just acquired my first adze and a proper spoon knife from Jason Lonon, it’s advice to remember.


      • Dave Fisher says:

        Great to hear that Scott! Have fun and don’t be phased, for long, by failure. If you don’t have some flop once in awhile, you’re probably not learning or growing much. Enjoy getting to know those new tools!


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