The crystal blue sky is flawless as I ease my way up the old logging road towards the spot where I used to play as a kid. I’m amazed at how much the landscape gas changed in 40 years. Once, there was only the trees and bushes on either side of the road and the road itself was mostly compacted mud. The trees formed a little dome here and in the middle of the road was a large puddle. It was only a few inches deep but it seemed to be 20 feet across. It was about this time of year that we’d start finding frog’s eggs floating in huge masses. We’d catch tadpoles and newts to be a pet for the day here. As I looked around at all the changes one of the consistencies was the Dogwood Flowers. I used to mark the spots where I found them because I knew that there would be a Dogwood snag close by. When a Dogwood tree dies naturally it tends to stand for a while and only the butt of the tree rots. The result is a walking stick that you can just break off at ground level. Then, you wedge the top of the tree between two larger trees and you can break that pretty accurately. The Dogwood stick wasn’t really as strong as one that was cut and cured but it was strong enough for a young boy on a day hike.
Today, I mostly appreciate the Dogwood for its beautiful flowers but during the time when I actually had to use a cane the one I carried most was made from a Dogwood that was taken from this very spot. At some point in my youth I decided that I wanted a hiking stick that was a little nicer than the ones that I would just pick. So I got out a hatchet and cut a nice straight one. It was actually too large to be practical but this was my first woodworking project. I took it home where my dad and grandfather helped me to peel it and sand it down smooth. Even today I find something therapeutic about sanding wood. The end of the stick finally cracked several years ago so I cut it down again and put a regular handle on it. I still have it today. It occasionally sees use but for the most part it’s now a carrier of my memories.
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