Smells Like Beam Spirit

What a joyous smell to open up the workshop in the morning. It never gets old; it’s all tied in with the reverence for wood and gratitude for being a part of your lives, helping the music happen. It smells like wood and earth, organic and dusty, but also of vindication. Of a plan that worked somehow; a path that really did lead somewhere and really was worthy of my belief and devotion. I had no idea this would all end up deep in the woods of the Texas “Hill Country” with a spokeshave in my hand listening to Crosby Stills & Nash singing “Carry On” with the sunrise pouring in the windows, carving on a bass guitar, when that REO Speedwagon song made me ask what that sound was (electric guitar) or that first road experience triggered decades of wanderlust, or those times when the music was magic… it could have gone many different ways. I started out 2100 miles from here with a whole different plan and through time and chapters it became this.  

If there have been bodies with a hand rubbed oil finish coat curing there’s a sharp but sweet tinge to the smell; if I had been routing or making any kind of grand sawdust the last day, the air is full of the scent of the specific wood. The spicy incense of rosewoods, the wood burn bouquet of maple, the elephant ass of zebrawood. My favorite raw worked wood smell is swamp ash. Some are stronger than others – more pungent. Spanish cedar I can even taste, though thankfully we’re past the chapter where it made me drool uncontrollably. That was something to see. Mesquite has its musty smell, spalted pecan smells like garden dirt; all extensions of the surrounding woods out here itself. Folks who don’t live out here visit and comment on just the smell of the acres of juniper trees and all the rich foliage come & gone & returning to the earth on the ground. I remember feeling high off of this much oxygen in my first days out here.

It’s Thursday night as I write this and – no big surprise – I smell like the workshop. Which kind of smells like the wood. And I look like I could sit on a tree stump and you wouldn’t be able to tell where it ended and I began. You’d be “Stumped” as it were. But as I spend myself, my waning number of days and life force on these instruments, I become my work. And as I work the wood and end up covered in it, the work becomes me. Or it could be the other way around – I don’t know. I’m tired, but it’s a good kind of tired and I’ll have lots of pictures for the builds page tomorrow (today if you’re reading this Friday when it’s posted). I just know water seeks its own level and gravity balance, and I feel the forces at work in, through, and around me as I handle and cut, carve and work these pieces of BEING. They were alive, and still feel that way to me. And I am alive and still feel that every day… so there is a give and take, perhaps more of a mutual offering and absorption, between the craftsman and the materials. One on its way back to life to outlive the other. This is accepted. 

I turn at dusk once the lights are turned off, close my eyes, breathe in, and shut the door. From he whom much is given much is expected. I do my best to do my best. It is all over me, and I am all over it. We dance the alchemy dance, in ceremony transformed from base materials into something greater; this we share, both built by each other in the process and transformed to serve.

Then play on,

Listening to: Marc Moran WTF podcasts with Thom Yorke, Nick Cave, and Bruce Springsteen; Miles Davis Kind of Blue; Rolling Stones Beggar’s Banquet; CSN… and sometimes Y.