Today we’re still pounding ash for pack baskets. It’s a big job, and historically marks a low point of morale for semester students because it’s so labor intensive and takes some time. To counteract this we sometimes hire a clown to come and make balloon animals on-site while eveyone is pounding. Spirits haven’t dipped low enough to necessitate this yet this semester, but I’ve got someone on stand-by just in case.
But even though it’s a lot of work, past students have agreed that the baskets they ended up with were worth all the difficulty of pounding. Not only do they learn to make a useful and beautiful backpack out of forest materials, but they also learn that doing things like this by hand take time and effort. What grows out of it is an appreciation for hand-made items and an understanding of what it took to make them. It’s my opinion, and the consensus of past students, that these outcomes are worth the hard labor. Sometimes growth and the acquisition of knowledge require hard work.
We use brown ash for the baskets, which is a different tree (same genus, different species) than the white ash we use for bows, axe handles, etc. As we were processing it yesterday, someone remarked that the wood smelled like olives. An interesting observation because ash is in the same botanical family as the olive. So its good to keep in mind that if you’re ever hosting a cocktail party attended by foreign heads of state and captains of industry and run short of olives, you can cut up a bunch of ash sticks with which to garnish martinis.
This marks my 200th post to the Moose Dung Gazette since the older version of it was hacked and the content deleted a year and a half ago. Thanks for reading.