Sticks and stones

Ever since I was a young boy I liked sticks: that’s what children do, right? They collect sticks. And rocks, and shells and seeds and on and on . . .

For a time I had put this away as a childish thing, but I’ve taken it up again. Blame Carl Jung if you want (part of his process of individuation was re-discovering some of his childhood play practices in middle age), or blame the Snake River: I lived about a mile from it for three years and went for frequent walks along its banks, where I picked up beautiful smoothed stones. Whenever I go into local stores selling polished stones I appreciate the amethyst and sodalite, the jasper and hematite and all the other -ites, but there’s something comforting and soulful about a stone that I found, its homespun beauty of mild colors brought to a gentle sheen by the rubbing of my own hands.

I may show off some of these.

And sticks: this past summer, I salvaged a load of prunings from a neighbor’s fruit trees. Most of these I cut up for fuel for my stoves. But recently I also took an apricot branch from my in-laws’ yard, which I had saved for two years. I stripped the bark, cut away its own little branches, and sanded it down.

And oh, it is gorgeous. I love to hold it and feel it. I’ve oiled it a few times with apricot kernel oil (appropriate, I thought) and plan on making a wood polish with oil and beeswax. No, it’s not as durable or hard as the polyurethane that I used on my yucca walking stick, but a natural finish feels right for this kind of thing.

Now I want to collect more and more of these: sticks and branches from every kind of fruit tree, and from maples and whatever else. I want to collect beautiful sticks and finish them.

And then what?

I’m going to keep writing about this.

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