Autumn in Maine is a magical time. There’s frost in the morning air, the leaves are growing more fiery by the day, and we’re hauling firewood into the house with increasing regularity – all reminders of the changeability of the season and the fast approach of winter. It’ll be here before you know it.
Every October, we head up to Leonard’s Mills in Bradley for their Living History Days – me and my family as visitors, Joshua and his family as historic interpreters. It’s a great time to wander around the working sash mill, weave at one of the old looms, eat some beanhole beans and reflector-oven biscuits, and take a wagon ride. We usually run into old friends there, and it’s a wonderful place to catch up. Without fail, I find myself thinking hard again about the way the past can and should inform the way we look to the future. Working with your hands, living within a community, learning how to use the natural materials of the land with an eye to their perpetual flourishing and value to future generations – these aren’t anachronistic or idealistic aims. They’re just as relevant in the 21st century as they were in the 18th.
After the last few months of (crazy) busyness at M&T, it’s been good to try to slow down and get back into a normal, regular routine… with an emphasis on slowing down. Rather than lugging his typical woodworking kit (bench and tool chest) up to Leonard’s Mills, for example, Joshua chose instead to bring an axe and knife and leisurely carve some spoons there. Here at the shop, we are changing gears to focus on some video and writing goals for much of the rest of the year – quiet, introspective, focused work for the most part.
I do still have one more event on the schedule, for which that contemplative visit to Leonard’s Mills was a valuable warm-up. On October the 19th, I’m presenting at the “Tools, Traditions, and Techniques Woodworking Forum” at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. I’m incredibly honored to be invited down to this event, and I think it’s going to be a wonderful time. I will be talking about the idea that “Tool Marks Tell Stories;” unpacking what old handmade furniture says to us today about working efficiently, sustainably, and skillfully. I have a bunch of interesting photos to share, as well as techniques to demonstrate (yes, there will be axes). Check it out, and sign up for the event if you’re in the area!