What a dull world if we knew all about geese!Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac (1949)
Geese still hold plenty of mystery for me. In this part of the world, they are Canada geese. Their abundance makes them easy to take for granted, but they’re fascinating. I’ve glided in a canoe unaware of how close I was to a nesting goose, her body absolutely still and head low in an attempt to remain unseen. Many times, walking along the riverbank, I’ve been loudly scolded for my intrusion. Often, I’m able to just watch as the geese, unperturbed, glide along the water’s surface. They seem to speak of contentment with muted honks.
Geese swim not far from where this crooked limb of sugar maple grew. It was cut off by the railroad company and left to the side of the tracks that run along the river. After splitting it along the pith and looking at what I had to work with, I began to see a “goose-inspired” form in there.
Above is what it looked like after the green carving stage, when I left it to dry. Not much extra material left, but still most of the work remains to be done.
Taking into consideration the figure in this piece of hard maple, I took everything down to a smooth surface. It made the most sense to me for this piece in terms of workability and aesthetics.
This angle shows the curl that was especially present through the tightest part of the crook.
The scrapers I had on hand weren’t able to reach into the area behind the breast very well, so I rooted through my scrap box of odd metal bits and came out with an old folding saw blade that I had broken in use. A strip of tape worked fine for some quick protection from the teeth.
I ground the broken end down to a curve then briefly and simply ran that edge square along a fine diamond stone. I did the same for the back of the blade while I was at it, then got back to work. Shavings!
The blade was able to reach in and then sweep back along the hollow.
The back of the blade was able to take heavy cuts in this crisp maple, serving as a shaping tool as much as a finishing tool. After the edge tools, I was able to go right to some very fine sandpaper to smooth the final surface.
The final dimensions came out to about 16 inches long, 4 1/2 inches wide, and 8 inches high. This one is flying west.