This is a first: to gain a new creative hobby out of an interview.
My conversation with Springhill carver, Faron Young, ended with me asking him if he'd help me with a Christmas project for my mantel. I just wanted a recommendation for a good chisel; he told me to bring my wood discs over. He showed me how to hold the wood and the chisel -- and encouraged me to loosen my death grip on the tool -- then sent me home with a fine chisel with which to finish carving the letters.
I couldn't resist trying my hand at a heart so now y'all know what ornament will come with every gift I send! Birthday hearts and Christmas hearts and spring hearts and fall hearts.
The most interesting thing, however, was Faron's explanation that the heart of a tree, the strong core right in the centre, is the hardest wood. After a tree has been chopped down and cut up, the heart dries out and cracks.
Check your woodpile; you'll see I'm right.
So carvers avoid the heart since it's not as easy to push a chisel through; carving wood, at least, is cut from the log around the heart. Yet the cracking makes me wonder if no one keeps the heart of a tree.
Of course this is a metaphor I love. The strong core that holds us up, the strong heart at the core that keeps us going, and how easy it is to break that heart. And it's a wonderful new idea to add to my essay-in-progress on the anatomy of trees.