Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Feel of the Wood


We have just finished cleaning out the family homestead in London. Mom (Bev) is in a retirement home. Dad (Jack) rests in peace. Last Saturday I walked through empty room after empty room. Many rich memories. Fifty-six years of stuff accumulated there.

I took particular interest in the downstairs workshop where for years Dad had worked on his beloved carvings of birds. Much steadier hands then. Much clearer eyes.

The shop had a wide variety of specialty saws, files, planes and wood-burning equipment. Items now for the enjoyment of grandchildren. Also many manuals on technique, many posters and photographs and volumes of the Ducks Unlimited subscription.

I found plugs of wood representing projects barely begun before macular degeneration did its ugly work. How he had prided himself in the detail of feathers and postures and distinctive markings. How he loved the scenery of loon on a lake, of Canada geese flocking into a freshly cut field, of wood ducks in a row on a submerged log displaying their overmuch colouration. (see the poems River Ducks and Northern Night)

The carved birds have now been distributed as family treasures. Others were gifted to friends long ago. With appreciative hands we explore the rich textures of the worked wood, even as Dad would have done, hour after hour.

But the time was now up. The woodcarving and the home no longer appropriate for a man in his eighty-ninth year; a woman in her eighty-fifth.

The empty rooms are just that...empty. The rich heritage, love and hope remain.

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