This is the shape the wood wants to be

photo of a green-carved kuksaBirch smells amazing while it’s still green.

It is easier than I thought, shaping half a log into a bowl. It is harder than I thought possible to finish a simple curve with a straight blade.

Countless generations have carved necessary items out of wood. It was the material to hand, and a few good blades with a couple flat stones could be found in even the poorest houses. There is a certain feeling of chicanery in making decorative objects out of waste wood. Is my use of spare time and making a hobby out of spoons a mockery of my ancestors’ need?

But I can think when my hands are busy. My fingers learn through the strokes and grips, and I can see the object in a block before picking up the axe.

I say things like: “This is the shape the wood wanted to be.”

It’s foolishness, but I know what I meant. It’s hard to express in words on a screen — my non-hobby, necessary job — the essence of something my eyes and hands have learned as my mouth and keyboard are silent.

Pushing and pulling steel through bits of tree gives me space to think and just be still.

This post originally appeared on medium.com

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