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  • Writer's pictureOld Bone

Slow Down. Whittle.

The author whittlin' walkin' sticks on his front porch

I've worked the last few Saturdays cleaning up our property from the winter storms. A severe ice storm, followed by high winds brought down dozens of trees and limbs. But it's amazing what one man with a Stihl Farm Boss chainsaw and a Kubota sub-compact tractor can accomplish. Other than burning the brush piles, the trees and limbs have all been cut into pole length and will eventually find their way into my woodstove for future winter heat. Very little goes to waste living in the country.

As I was clearing the property, I remembered I'd made a walking stick last year from an oak branch I'd cut. I cut it by hand with a hatchet. I stripped the bark by hand with my American made Kershaw pocket knife. I sanded it by hand. I stained and sealed it by hand and finished it off with a rawhide handle and brass tip on the end. It makes a very practical piece, as well as a keepsake from my children and grandchildren when I'm gone. So I decided to make some more. Twenty-one more. As I have twenty-two grandchildren, they'll each have an item hand made by Grandpa and taken from ancestral land here in the Shendandoah Valley. The one shown here is hickory.

As I was burning the first brush pile, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to slow down, sit in my rocker and whittle on this first walking stick. It was very therapeutic. It is so superior to living on Facebook and raging on Twitter. The slower, quieter rural life itself is therapeutic and soothing. And, yes, it does still exist in rural corners of the South and other parts of America as well. We enthusiastically embrace it and thank God for it.

There is nothing more fulfilling than working one's own land and, at the same time, preserving something for future generations.

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