Pedagogy of the Plants

Whittling Palo Santo

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Mexican flame vines buttress Robert and Madeline’s verdant enclave from Orlando’s relentless congestion. After chocolate and coffee, we toured their small, one-room workshop where essential oils are blended, poured, packaged, and shipped.  One of their latest offerings is palo santo, from South America.  The “holy wood” was used by the Incas to purify and cleanse spaces of negative energy/spirits.  Robert offered a bag of sticks to take home.

The winter break’s first read was Amy Greene’s Bloodroot, an apropos tale for a cabin Christmas in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Set in rural Tennessee, a doting grandfather whittles animals for his granddaughter. Inspired by his crafty gifts, and equipped with enough palo santo wood to cleanse an old apartment complex, I set out to try my hand at folk art.

Lloyd showed me how to use a range of tools for deconstructing, repairing, and building ramps and skateboards.  Despite his disdain for the sport’s inherent destruction, throughout the years my grandfather passed along well-worn various and sundry tools, including a small pocket knife.

The cube above was first, then the pyramid.  Pleased with fragrant basics, organic figures followed.  The boy in baggy jeans was originally intended to be a sphere, but symmetry proved illusive.  So the kid slowly revealed himself as a raver from ’97, and the pyramid became a hat.

Written by Cameron Brooks

January 7, 2012 at 5:12 pm

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