But now it means something a bit different.
Now it means this is when the work starts.
Being in touch with the seasons as people often are, who live on a narrowboat, is one thing. Now that we have a business making walking sticks, this has really come into its own. Not only now do we have to consider where we will find firewood, but also sticks to be collected. Sure, it’s impossible to start this way from a standing start so sticks have been collected these last two winters but this winter is different; this winter we have a name; 358 Walking Sticks.
As 358 is very much linked into what nature has to offer us (and us it), the process of creating beautifully crafted (I’m allowed to say that as Tom is the one who makes them!) walking sticks being seasonal is just perfect.
The leaves and berries (sloes) are still clinging on well to some blackthorn, and others are almost bare. Bare is what we want: It is a sign the sap has gone down into the roots, and therefore will be much less likely to crack. For hazel, this is true as well but blackthorn is the one to be most rigid about doing this.
This means that from late October to mid February, we are really ‘at it’; while sticks can be made in any of the other eight months of the year, this part is time precious – like all nature is. The sticks all benefit massively from being cut – coppiced – so it really is as sustainable wood as you can get.
Looking forward to being busy for winter I think is one of the reasons we are looking forward to this one so much. Although for me, things won’t change too much, seeing Tom so engaged in this activity lifts my spirits as much as doing it myself would. I’ll stay making the cups of tea, and come out when my health allows.