Thursday, August 30, 2012

where there's a knot...

Where there's a knot, there had been a limb, and a single item of the many that connect us soul to soul with wood is that we and the trees are narrative forms. Just as we tell our stories to each other, the life of the tree is told in wood. Some craftsmen love knots and incorporate them in their work, others avoid them at all costs. Some craftsmen strive for perfection, others find themselves more willing to give voice to the essential qualities of wood, knots and all. Regardless of where one may fall along that line, there are lessons to learn about life from a hands-on examination of real wood.

In 7th, 8th and 9th grades at CSS, we are attempting to give voice to the wood to better understand ourselves, our community and our places within. We are starting a project in which our own histories and the life of our nation will be told through marking a timeline on wood. The two slices of stump shown are from the city cemetery (a giant yellow pine) and from the tulip poplar which presided over our Carnegie Public Library.

This can make a great history lesson for kids, connecting them to the lives of community and forest, and to the growth of our trees. It is something easily done in your own school and community.Check with your local arborist or tree service for a suitable stump.

We will use nails to mark the years and to locate specific events. On the stump in front of the Carnegie Public Library we will do the same thing, but by attaching numbered tags and by providing a printed key that library patrons can use to explore their own relationship to our wonderful lost tree.

I have not as yet determined the exact ages of these trees, but both were cut last week, August 2012, and are over 80 years old. A count of the rings will tell the exact story.

If you would like to get a sense of the school where I teach, watch the following:

Make,fix and create...


  1. Doug,

    So will beautiful things be made from the tulip poplar that grew next to the library?


  2. Mario, that is our hope....