You know how when you come to the end of a movie, book or television show and they leave you hanging? That usually means there is a sequel coming up. The post yesterday, ‘A New Staff’, ( no link, it is the post before this one) only introduced the new oak seedling that has been chosen to hold the magic crystal and the more important task of keeping me upright as I peruse the garden paths. It is now completed, and rests on the bench by the pond, as reflected in the magic mirror. Lots of magic going on here.This morning I went out with hammer in hand to pound the roots of the replacement walking stick and was pleasantly surprised to find the roots were quite pliable. The living tree had been dug only the day before so rigor mortis had not settled in. There was some hammering on the larger roots, but the encasement of the smokey quartz stone went quickly and with little effort. Little Whimsy Bongo Congo looks on with approval at the transferred gem from pine to oak. Click here to read about the day of her birth last July.With the stone secured we decided to remove the bark only from the area where my hand will grasp the sturdy pole. The difference in heft between the dead pine seedling stick and the living oak seedling is startling. It is heavy! It is assumed that the drying process will lighten it some. We went up to the shed to locate the tool shown above. There is a remarkable story about why we acquired that tool and the coincidence that follows. When we moved from California to Tennessee in the late eighties, we fell in love with the folk art and primitive antiques of this area. We started collecting bits of metal, old tools, baskets, we even took classes to learn how to make baskets instead of just buy them at craft fairs from the weavers. This tool was one of those purchases to hang on the wall for decor in our rustic home in the woods. Over the years we became a little more minimalist in our tastes and put away those things that cluttered up the house. You should have seen it at the peak though, there were branches with moss and birdsnests hanging in the living room from the ceiling. A dusting nightmare! Time marches on and we moved to Texas in the late nineties. That tool somehow made the move too, and was in the garage, where tools belong. The place we moved to was called The Woodlands, north of Houston. There were trees everywhere. In fact they build the houses around the trees, a good thing, but take none of them out. They were much too dense for any of the pines, the predominant tree, to grow properly. We did a major thinning and were left with a stack of nice straight poles. Of course we jumped right in and began building arbors, benches and gates with the wood. We learned as usual by trial and error. Offspring Gardoctor, still in high school had learned about building with logs at a camp and helped us get started. He said we needed to take the bark off for the wood to last longer without rotting. You may see where this is going. He described a tool called a draw blade. I went into the garage and produced the tool shown in the photo above. I had no idea what it was called or used for when I purchased it, many years before, but it was just what we needed to build those projects. We sharpened it up with a file, also shown above, and it stripped the bark off easily and cleanly. I am still astounded at the impulse to buy that blade, and how it figures in our story today. My left knee in black cotton leggings and right foot in pink sloggers are also shown in the shot.As I was working, the little rose Fairy Queen was looking very sweet on the steps next to me and asked politely to be in the post too.Back up to the knot garden we climbed, yes using the staff, with the handle grip ready for sanding. We used medium and fine sanding pads and then applied a coat of boiled linseed oil to the entire staff. We were a little sloppy and spilled
some, alot on the bench and gravel. We wanted a nice thick coating to help preserve the wood and bark left on the oak.The wood was gray before the oil was rubbed on, but look at the transformation afterwards. What a lovely shade of green was revealed. We hope it remains that color.The finished staff, oiled for preservation, glistens in the sun with a little gratuitous muhly grass behind.