How a Tree Became a Whale

A rescue and careful work reveal the spirit of land and sea.whale2

by Lee Dye
page 64

I have lusted for years after the wide, irregular planks used by the legendary George Nakashima to capture what he called “the soul of a tree.” I would give them new life as a piece of furniture emphasizing the natural figure and sculpted edges of the wood, just as he did for decades.

I thought I would never be lucky enough to acquire such a marvelous gift of nature.
It turned out I was wrong. We stopped at a tiny village during one of our yearly cruises through southeast Alaska, and as I walked across a bridge from the dock to the shore, I saw what I had yearned for all those years.

It was beautiful, even from a distance – a wide piece of wood, gracefully arched, and the lapping water of a receding tide was about to drag it out into the bay. It would probably end up on a distant shore, wasted by pounding surf and harsh weather.

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From the December 2014 issue, #215

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