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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Notes From the Road (7) - Sawing in the Swamps

I could sense Ivan's anticipation mount as we turned off the highway. We'd been seeing nothing but southern pine and swamps for a while, and he seemed to know he was about to experience something completely different from the Carpathian mountains. He asked me to stop so he could take a picture of the sign for the Goodwin Heart Pine Lumber Company.

Saw blade on sign...excellent.
As we headed down a gravel road into the swamp, Ivan sat at attention and started taking pictures non-stop. I'm not sure how he translated the sign below in his head, but it was perfect. He was suddenly completely interested in alligators and where they might be lingering.

Vot does "Dead End" mean, exactly?
At the end of the road, we rolled through the gate of George and Carol Goodwin's passion...the headquarters of their Goodwin Lumber Company. George figured out a few decades ago that pulling old longleaf pine and cypress logs from the swamp and rivers in the area could be profitable, and he's been buying and sawing them ever since.


Carol runs the business from a nice office in the front of the property, filled with samples of products made from their products.

Carol's office.

Have you ever seen a floor medallion filled with pine?

Curly heart pine...a unique and elegant look for cabinetry.
George runs the headrig, and as I watched him turn the logs I recognized the experience of one who has been opening great logs for a long time. Each one was turned deliberately until the perfect face presented itself. And what appeared was some of the most beautiful art that nature can provide.


As we stood watching George and his hands at their trade, the unique smell of the old-time Gulf Coast mill took me back to my roots. Fresh-sawn heart pine, with its high pitch content, produces a profusion of that sweet smell that one never forgets, and mixed with the sour smell (think vomit) of fresh cypress, it made for the perfect sweet and sour combination. As we used to say in our mill houses just outside the big mills in Diboll..."smells like money."

You know it's a great business that turns old reclaimed stumps into enduring home construction treasure.
You've seen pecky cypress boards or wainscotting? Well, here's what it looked like before it met the saw.
As nice as the mill visit was, I think what happened next really left the biggest impression of Southern hospitality on Ivan. The Goodwins not only booked our hotel room at a local inn, but they insisted on paying for it...and then they treated us to a fine dinner in one of the nicest trendy restaraunts in Gainesville. And hearing that Ivan preferred vodka to our American whiskey, George made sure that we sampled plenty of single-barrel gold just so Ivan had basis for a fair comparison. I believe our sample size was sufficient.

Dr. Sopushynskyy, looking cool after having checked around the back of the tree for a gator.
Having witnessed the production of one of the finest wood products on this planet, Ivan wanted to learn more about these Southern pines and their ecosystem. We began to explore the coastal southern pine forest the next day.

1 comment:

Shelterwood Systems said...

Hey Chuck!

Awesome piece; I know the Goodwin's operation from my days as Executive Director of Woodworkers Alliance for Rainforest Protection (WARP) in the mid-1990s. I did my best to promote their product as sustainable forest utilization then and still think they're awesome. I never got a chance to get down there and sample their hospitality (they invited me numerous time), however, I am glad my paisano, Ivan Shupushynskyy, and you got a chance to see their operation and sample their single barrel gold.

On my next trip to Ukraine, I will see if Ivan has been change his tune from vodka or Trascarpathian cognac to sour mash!

Best,

Yurij Bihun