The heft and feel of a well-worn handle,
The sight of shavings that curl from a blade;
The logs in the wood pile, the sentiment of huge beams in an old-fashioned house;
The smell of fresh cut timber and the pungent fragrance of burning leaves;
The crackle of kindling and the hiss of burning logs.
Abundant to all the needs of man, how poor the world would be
Without wood.

Everard Hinrichs, quoted by Eric Sloane in A Reverence for Wood


Monday, April 23, 2012

Springtime Means Redbuds, Dogwoods, and Charcoal

Eastern redbud, Cercis canadensis
Walking to work last week, I got some great shots of spring breaking out all around. I used to think that East Texas was the only place that redbuds and dogwoods bloomed, but as I got older and my horizons expanded past Tyler, I discovered that a few other states have the same purple and white display each spring. Growing up, I always knew that the first faint hint of purple in the woods meant that the redbuds were signaling the end of winter, the beginning of spring, and hot weather about three weeks away. In Pennsylvania, basically the same, except that hot weather is still about three months away.

In forestry school I learned that the redbud I was so fond of was properly called the Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis...and I figured it was called Eastern because of East Texas, but I couldn't figure out what Canada had to do with it.

Pink dogwood, Cornus florida var.

Blooming dogwoods go right along with the redbuds.  Dr. Mike Fountain burned Cornus florida into my brain, along with about a hundred other scientific names that still roll off my tongue easier than the names of my kids. I'm guessing that the dogwood tree is special to more people than any other single species of tree.

This weekend was our Penn State Blue/White weekend, which feeds our football withdrawal symptoms until oh, I dunno, the NFL draft, I suppose. For me, it was a good excuse to fire up the grill and avoid yardwork under the guise of "watching the meat." Can't be out there pulling weeds when a brisket is on the grill, can you? Don't taste as good unless an authorized meat watcher keeps things under control.

This year is special, since my friend Sandy Smith, who did such a great job in the charcoal re-enactment that I videod and posted last summer, brought me over a big bag full of the charcoal that they made in that demonstration. It's the real stuff, man, and it burns like charcoal is supposed to.

So, since I had a little free time watching the meat, I shot another short video of a critical fire and meat check, and panned around to give you a little glimpse of spring time in State College. A little barren compared to Tyler this time of year, and pretty green compared to Fairbanks, I'm guessing.

In case you're wondering, Penn State won :-)

1 comment:

Martin said...

These days dogwood is a noncommercial species. It has a dense, fine grain & is really nice to turn on a lathe.
Back when there was a textile industry in New England, it was used for shuttles & bobbins