Sometimes, honouring a commitment can take an unanticipatedly mythic time period to fulfill.
In 2015, MacKay and i pitched a Wilderness Rites for Scottish Teens crowdfund. We had to come up with some symbolic ‘gifts’ for helping us ‘tend to the roots of resilience’, as we were poetically putting it; we tried to identify things we were already in relationship with. For me, i grew up in the collwyn and have been on that learning pathway since, plus my household had an actual actual Hazel Ent by the name of Tree Paul camping in our living room; so this species was an obvious choice.
For the investment of a hundred pounds in us, on behalf of future young people that may come into contact with our new strung bows; I offered the following:
At the time of offering, I was on a piece a land, in community; set for a long term relationship of tending. I’d already started helping with opening up and clearing neglected terraces; so harvesting some rods for steam bending seemed an achievable goal.
On my return from Coyote Camp, having suffered a terrible urban ‘Sleeping Beauty’ accident in Montreal, namely pricking my finger on an unidentified third parties littered hypodermic needle; whilst reaching for a dropped $20 in a phonebooth. I was home lime rendering, wrecked on anti HIV medication as a precaution; & was suddenly forced to change living circumstances.
Rebel without a copse.
It was a huge upheaval in the midst of a lot of vision. By that mysterious quality called grace, Camas Tuath found me, and over the four years of harvesting nuts & growing hazel with the kids there, I coppiced the neglected stand; & fresh poles of the right quality were harvested. At the time of leaving, the regenerating stand was looking good, several hundred hazel were grown and planting within the grounds & 450 trees were sold onto the neighbouring community woodland. These are the walking sticks our great grandchildren may choose to harvest as they become elders in need of a third leg.
Having had a jig made in 2017 by the very talented Simon Hackin. In 2018 I made two sticks, The first, i gave to an elder who for all intents and purposes; founded Camas Outdoor Centre. The other, was a bit shit, so i used it to open and close a high velux window. That was a close of that years industry as one of the oak pegs on the jig snapped; operator error.
You can(‘t) get the staff these days…
In the autumn of 2019, i harvested the poles; in 2020 i had the offending piece copied and turned on a lathe by a neighbour. Then having moved locale, one night, under a spring moon on the porch of an Air B and B in Argyll; everything lined up to complete the task. I got steaming from dusk until dawn. All that now remains is the months for the sticks to cure correctly; the strings cut and to pass on the good news.
That’s all i wanted to say really; your sticks’ll be with you before the snow hits the ground. They’re super-chthonic and made in Kairos time for Total Legends. Wise words, as ever, from Master Yoda:
“I disappear for years and reappear right here to cheer about my cool stick”.