Beautiful wood

I visited a neighbor, Louis, a few weeks ago and I still cannot understand the incredible effort he went to to put together his home. It is a simple home of incredible workmanship. He built his home across a winter and spring. His brother and father provided labor and ideas to the endeavor but the work was largely his.

In an effort to conserve space he decided to create a spiral staircase and the end result is absolutely breathtaking. The stairs were cut from a single tree. The railings came from what I had thought was scrap wood. I admit that I do not understand how he accomplished the beauty in it. But I do understand artistry when I see it and the man is an absolute artist.

He had acquired several wagon loads of cut boards and used them to side the walls inside of the house as well as to floor the place. There were two different types of wood in one wagon with a small number being a considerably darker wood, he chose to alternate them on an inside wall creating a pleasing pattern. I wish I had thought of such when building my tavern as I believe it would improve any building with its simplicity.

The mortise and tenon work was accomplished with the assistance of his brother; a true master. The use of mortise and tenon works superbly to bind wood together. Some men opt to use a square peg in a round hole to secure junctions in construction. Others use a round peg within a round hole. I personally lack the skill to make a round peg without a spring lathe, something I do not own and do not know how to use. For my own construction it has always been a square peg. My own work is simple and functional with no artistic flair. I am no artist but a simple man, but I can appreciate true artistry when I see it.

The house has a splendid view of a spring fed pond. While it is often green with algae the water that feeds it is cold and fresh. When I purchased my own land I looked at that land and did not see a good building site as it was on a fairly steep slope. He leveled out a space about half way up the hill and harvested trees from the hill. The end result is a house perched a short rifle shot above his barn and other outbuildings.

Louis is a farmer who excels at everything he attempts. His cows produce excellent milk and good beef. He wastes nothing and does well for his wife and himself. While he raises crops and livestock he also farms his timber. He builds furniture and wooden bowls that are quite nice to look upon. While he has never been a customer in my tavern, he does not drink, his wife is a frequent customer of fresh bread from my wife. They are good neighbors and good people of the kind who have built this nation and continue to improve it.

Lightning strikes

This winter we had several severe snows to include thunder snow. Thunder snow is an impressive occasion with such heavy and intense snow that thunder and lightning come along with it. The tree you see above was a victim of a lightning strike in winter. It was a very cold winter. I suspect the lightning struck the tree and the heat and power behind that lightning turned the ice into steam almost instantly. The steam striking ice in such a way that the tree literally exploded. When I found the tree on one of my morning walks it had been turned into seven distinct pieces. One piece had been driven more than three feet into the frozen ground.

Nature is a fickle creature. She knows no mercy and shows no compassion. She cares not whether you want or need moisture, cold or drought. I know nature is a woman as she does what she will in such a way no man can understand her.

In my life I have seen sandstorms sweep in off the desert and strip the flesh from man and beast. I have seen a blizzard bring thunder and lightning while watching the mercury drop like a stone bringing a more than forty degree temperature shift. I have seen temperatures sixty degrees below freezing and temperatures soar well past 120 degrees. In all of these man has survived by using his brain. The wise man does not try to defeat nature but learns to live within it. For thousands of years man has lived with nature and the generations have taught us not to think we can best her; at most we can live with her.