Sunday, August 31, 2008

Walnut and Cognac

I once participated in a special celebration where bottles of 100 year-old Louis XIII cognac were served. In the moments leading up to opening the bottles of brandy which cost $1,600 each, I thought about the century in which this beverage fermented slowly, quietly, and in darkness. I pondered notable human events that occurred during that time span as this brandy matured in an oak barrel somewhere in France. I wondered about the grape harvest and workers who started the process long ago.

We each were given an engraved, stemmed glass before the expensive bottles were opened. Each of us received less than two ounces. After the toast was said, I sniffed inside the glass and slowly wet my tongue as I savored the taste. I, like everyone, sipped slowly to extend the experience as long as possible.

I experience equal exhilaration when I mill logs from mature trees that grow for 50, 75, or 100 years or more. Logs from special trees are often brought to me for conversion into planks or beams.

A couple of weeks ago I milled logs from a 100 year-old walnut tree into wide boards and thick beams. As the saw blade cut into the logs, aroma from the sawdust filled the workspace. This milling created in me thoughts similar to the ones I processed when the cognac was consumed. This tree grew slowly, quietly, in sunlight and in darkness, in storms and in calm to reach this maturity of excellent wood that will be used to build fine furniture, book shelves, or tables which can be useful to people for another hundred or more years.

The milling of this special tree was as exhilarating as the celebration when the hundred-year-old cognac was served.
See the pictures below and have a good week!


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