Last week I was driving home on Dixie Highway and spotted a small grey lump in my lane. Before I could steer around it, my truck’s tires went over it, and I immediately knew what had happened. I had run over a turtle.
A glance in the rearview confirmed it. The grey lump was flatter and redder. I adore turtles, and so I felt a bit sick to my stomach for several hours.
As penance perhaps, I’ve taken to rescuing earthworms while on my morning walk. When it rains, the worms get stranded on the sidewalk and die. So when I spot a living one I scoop it up on a leaf and return it to the soil.
I’ve got a lot of worms to save. This is the odd way that my head works: I need to save enough worms to equal the weight of a small turtle.
This sort of calculus is hardwired into my brain. You can mock it, but you might as well abuse me for being furry or having odd-shaped toes. There’s not a dang thing I can do about it.
I’ve long had the same urge when it comes to my woodworking. If I had any land, I’d plant trees to replace the ones I’ve used to build furniture. But lately I’ve come up with a different plan.
Now, before I tell you more, please understand I know how forest management works. I’ve visited the hardwood forests of Pennsylvania and watched it in action on both private and public lands. I know that harvesting mature trees is good for the ecosystem and is part of the great circle of life (cue the theme to “Lion King.” Wait, please don’t. It burns).
I try to use domestic woods whenever possible, reclaimed wood when I can, urban trees and even firewood when building stick chairs.
But like when I ran over that turtle, my brain demands more.
So I’ve decided to make a donation to a forest-related nonprofit every time I complete a project. There are many organizations out there that do research and work to create a better future for woodworkers.
To balance my psychic scales for the gateleg table I just completed (and shipped to its new owner in Colorado), I’ve made a donation to The American Chestnut Foundation, a non-profit organization that has worked since the 1980s to restore the American chestnut to the Eastern forest.
Chestnut was once a significant source of food and furniture lumber in the Appalachian forests until the blight, which was first detected in 1904. I’d love for my daughters and grandchildren to be able to work with this wood again.
After each major project, I’ll try to make a note here of which organization I’ve made a donation too. I’m not trying to say you should do the same – this is just the way my brain works.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. I’ll be in Germany for the next two weeks with little access to the Internet (this is intentional; I’ve heard that Germany has had internet for several years now). Kara and the rest of the crew at Lost Art Press will pick up my slack on blogging while I’m away.