I grew up in an area of the U.S. that can be described as prime timber land. We lived directly on the Mason-Dixon Line and about a mile from West Virginia, as the crow flies. I did all the things you might expect when you think of rural living in the U.S. I helped can vegetables from the garden every summer, and we had family gatherings centered on harvesting corn. We children built and maintained hay castles in the barn and split and stacked firewood in the fall. My mother taught us how to manage our garden and pick the harvest. “Pinch this bean. See how plump it is? That means it’s ready!” My father took us on walks on Sundays and we identified trees. “Here, bite this twig. What is it?” My brother and I would nibble and exclaim, “Black birch!” Dad would nod in agreement.
Being connected to our resources made an impact on how we lived growing up, and continued to affect the way I lived after returning home to start my career as a woodworker. I had the ability to pursue both conventional and green woodworking because I lived in an area where I could carefully select and cut a tree down for my carving interests, while making furniture and smaller items out of kiln-dried lumber supplied by our hobby sawmill. My environment made it easy to become a woodworker.
–Amy Umbel, excerpt from “A Sense of Place,” in Issue Eight