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Thursday, April 5, 2012

In a fit of spring madness, I decided to dust some of the lovespoons that hang in every nook and cranny of my house. This one was a particular pleasure to clean up because it has been a companion ever since my wife and I took our first backpacking and youth hostelling excursion to Europe many, many, many years ago.

We had been fortunate enough to spend a little bit of our time travelling with a friend of ours who worked for a European travel company and who had access to some accommodation just outside Firenze. As it turned out, the place was a little gatekeeper's cottage near to some very swanky villas, so we were feeling pretty highbrow...despite our tinned ravioli and jam sandwich budget.

One morning, I awoke to the sound of chainsaws and the smell of the most fragrant smoke I have ever inhaled. It was like Christmas pudding you could breathe....amazing!! I toddled outside to discover the groundskeepers busy pruning the Olive groves which surrounded the neighbouring hillsides. They had very kindly piled some of the larger logs just up the path from our digs, so I moseyed over and had my first look at olive wood. WOW!!! The figure of the grain was magic and the rich aroma of the freshly cut wood was wonderfully overwhelming...I had to have some!!!

But it wasn't that easy. First I had to 'acquire' a log without running afoul of whoever was planning to take the wood away, then I had to figure out a way to cut out a piece which could be transported all over Europe in a backpack without killing me. Thankfully, a rummage through the kitchen knife drawer provided me with an old cleaver which despite having seen much better days was perfect for a logging operation. A loose brick in the path provided the necessary 'bashing' implement for thumping said knife through the log .... I was in business.
Despite the olive wood's tendency to display a rowey, interlocked grain, I managed to batter that poor old knife through my little log a couple of times and successfully milled out a nice little board to accompany me on my further travels. Once packed away, it even made my clothes smell wonderfully 'fruitcakeish' (which I suppose made a nice metaphor for me and my lovespoon obsession!).
That lovely little chunk of olive spent months travelling with us all over the European continent and throughout Great Britain. No doubt I could have just bought a bit at a lumberyard when I got home, but there was something very romantic about the circumstances of its acquisition and of lugging it around from pillar to post.

Once home, I confess that it sat quietly unnoticed amongst a pile of my old clothing and Euro souvenirs for quite some time before I finally decided that it would make a great memento of our engagement (which had occurred during our European sojourn).
It was wonderful to work that olivewood and I still have a couple of the offcuts which I have used to make little inlay hearts for spoons carved for some of my Italian clients. Some of the unsuable offcuts I save just to touch against the belt sander when I get nostalgic and want to smell that lovely olivewood aroma filling my shop once again.
Maybe one day I'll get back to Italy during pruning season, but until then, I have this lovely, simple little spoon to set my memories off and to remember a happy little adventure!

1 comment:

  1. What an absolutely wonderful story! I used to love all the olive trees around Firenze.

    And this is a great design for olivewood, too - seems too pretty to cut up with piercings and lots of detail.

    Maybe I'll eventually come up with a design I like well enough to use the board I've had hidden away downstairs for several years.

    Poor cleaver... ;)