The first day back from expedition was all about de-issuing the canoeing expedition. There was much to do but many hands do make light work and we were finished by the end of the day. That was Saturday.
We spent Sunday with a local geologist and historian, Bob Brown. We started off at a mica mine near Kroka and discussed energy, a bit of philosophy, history and chemistry. It was great fun and gave us many interesting things to ponder over in the coming days.
The afternoon was spent at Chase’s Mill, a fully functional water-powered mill that has been operating in one capacity or another since 1767 and is one of only nine operable mills in New Hampshire. Bob gave us a tour of the inner workings of the structure and we talked about energy and its history in this country, as well as in the world at large. The entire day was stimulating and fascinating. Thank you, Bob!
Monday we started making knives. We split up into two groups. The first group had class with Liz while the second began the process of turning a lump of hard wood into a beautiful knife. After lunch we switched. For class, we discussed the first 6 chapters of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, read our pre-semester reflections to each other, and wrote and workshopped poems about home.
Our mentor for the knife making was Samuel, and incredible leader and craftsman. To clarify: we are not forging the blades, we are just carving the handles and sowing the sheaths. “Just” might not be the right word here. We are still making a gorgeous handle and sheath in just three days with basic hand tools and in many cases no experience with wood work. Part of what makes this project so special is that we are each making a knife for another member of the group. To add to the fun, we do this anonymously so that no one knows who is making their knife! We were able to do the rough shaping of the handles today as well as attach the the blades.
On Tuesday, while one group was making knives the other group worked on the farm. The farm crew picked tomatoes, put squash and potatoes in the root cellar, rode the horse (Britta) and generally helped out. In the workshop, we finished shaping our knife handles. We used progressively finer files to shape the hande and then sanded and burnished the wood until it was positively silken. We put on a coat of oil and called it day.
Wednesday was the last day of knife making. Or rather, sheath making! We cut out leather and sewed it up into a custom sheath. After a coat of wax to harden the leather and add water resistant qualities, our knives were complete! It was such a good feeling to look at our finished knives and think about the transformation they had undergone from rectangular blocks of wood to shining, smooth, polished knives.
It feels like a good metaphor for Kroka: It brings out the best in people!
Later, we held a ceremony to gift our knives to one another.
Also, Wednesday was our contra dance in the farmhouse! We put on our fancy clothes and had a grand time! It was fun to dance and the music was wonderful. Hopefully we can have more dances in the future!
Thursday was a more regular day, all thing considered. We had class with Nathan in the morning where we read and discussed the poem “The Woodpile” by Robert Frost and then learned about the heating system for the farmhouse which is quite fascinating. The afternoon was more Big Job/expedition prep time.
Friday was devoted to expedition preparations: from class in the morning to jobs in the afternoon, all doing was in preparation for Sunday’s departure. But, first! Saturday. Saturday was awesome! As it happens, we headed back to the Deerfield River. This time, however, we had rafts instead of canoes, and ran a Class 4 rapid below Zoar Gap called the Dryway. It was pretty wild and a fun time for all!
On Sunday we departed for our biking expedition and all of the adventures that will undoubtedly ensue.
A lonesome tree stood
in the wood.
He flowered and budded,
he bore fruit.
as he gave his life.
He grew old, but the fruit
still tasted sweet.
as he gave his life.
Storms blew; and old tree
Old tree grew to despise,
But: Townspeople cheered
No one knew old tree
For his fruit still tasted