Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Spoonmaker

Our township is celebrating its bicentennial this year. Concurrent with its Independence Day celebrations, the community is holding a Heritage Festival this weekend -- a sort of "living history" event, complete with local residents dressed in period garb, demonstrating the skills used to build and sustain life here two centuries ago.

Antique engines, some powered by steam, thresh grain, grind corn and transform logs into lumber, shingles and veneer. Human hands use simple tools to spin wool, knot lace, bind straw into brooms and throw pottery. There's a small encampment of Union soldiers. Children wait impatiently for a turn on a horse-drawn wagon.

As my wife and I strolled the festival grounds yesterday, I kept reminding her about what I really wanted to see: spoon carving. And each time I brought it up, she gave me that look.

We found The Spoonmaker seated under a canvas canopy, pulling a drawknife along a cherry blank held in a dead-weight vise. I watched as he took the rough piece in his hands and shaped it carefully with a primitive knife, coaxing practical form from the wood.

Meantime, Mrs. KintlaLake was engaged in conversation with The Spoonmaker's wife, who proudly displayed their work and described the unique character of each piece. I couldn't help but smile as my wife warmed to the combination of beauty and utility in a humble, handcrafted wooden spoon.

In the end, I brought home one of The Spoonmaker's small wooden table spoons. And my wife? She bought three.