letters keep pouring in by the
twos and threes each year and I find I am behind in my answers to some
vital questions put to me by kind readers. So let’s ‘ave
a go at it, Barney!
....Dear Bill Moore: Where can I order
my Georgia Fatwood from – and what is it?
....Georgia Fatwood is splittings from
the huge ancient stumps of virgin Georgia pine. In other words, Curious,
it is sticky, pitchy kindling wood. I quote the ad in a recent New Yorker
magazine (we keep in touch) “an interesting and attractive bundle
of about 225 sticks by 8 inches long, with rope handles. Exciting extremely
useful gift for only $14.75. Send Visa or Mastercard number to Orvis
Co., Manchester, Vermont, 15254. U.S.A.
....Who said the mountain can’t go
....Dear “Out of the bight”:
....Someone once told me there were square
trees grown somewhere. I mean like not round ones, where the thing comes
out of the ground, but square, like a square thing.
....The square thing you probably refer
to in your confused letter is possibly the trunk of a tree. Trunks of
trees have a habit of growing sort of round in shape. Why – I
don’t know, but it may be so that people can tell the trees from
the forest. Or vice versa.
....Anyway, before I put your letter in
my usual filing place, I consulted a good forester friend of mine as
to whether or not square tree trunks are indeed a fact
Pushing his Boston clam chowder aside and removing a small cracker crumb
from his cheek (we were dining in the charming Timber Club of the Vancouver
Hotel at the time) he astounded me by saying – “Yes, Bill,
I have seen square trunked trees – square trunked bamboo trees!”
....I removed my thumb from the butter and
tried to ignore the glare of the maitre de, as I listened to his story.
....Bamboo has one year of growth and in
that year can grow as high as nine feet. Properly cultivated it will take
on six inches in diameter.
....The Japanese who tend this wood actually
feel out the underground shoots and build sturdy molds for the shoots
to grow up and into. These chaps feel the shoots with their bare feet.
....At the end of a year the square moulds
produce a bamboo tree four to six inches square. The trunks are used for
beams and structural use in Japanese homes.
....I was delighted to know of the square
bamboo tree trunk and thanked my friend. He said – as he tested
his 6 oz. Medium rare filet – “Ha, ha, Bill, that is not all
there is to the square tree trunk caper.”
....I looked aghast – to think there
could still be more to this tantalizing tale was nearly too much for me.
“What else is there?” I mumbled.
....“I was telling some forestry friends
in China of these marvelous trained square bamboos, when they smiled and
took me to a bamboo growth nearby. To my utter astonishment there grew
real square bamboo trees. Not trained and molded, but grown like any other
....While this story may sound a bit far
fetched – it is true – take it from a friend.
....I thanked the fine chap, but did feel
a bit embarrassed as we bid farewell with a handshake. You see, I unknowingly
had a chocolate mint in my palm! Oh well!
....Dear Old Bill:
....Where is the most northern sawmill
in the world?
....Dear Mr. Cutter:
....I’m glad you asked, and by happenstance,
I visited the site of what I believe is the world’s most northern
sawmill – in fact two of them – both circular mills.
....They are in Inari, Lapland, in northern
Finland, and they cut local pine trees into lumber.
....Inari is actually not far below Pt.
Barrow – Alaska’s most northern tip. It’s climate
is unique because of the Gulf current that brings warm air up into northern
Finland and allows trees to grow at a latitude where they could not
grow in other countries.
....There is a great deal of muskeg and
water in this flat northern area, but still I saw many small areas of
pine forest. The trees are quite stunted – about 40 to 50 feet
high – and because of their age (150 – 200 yrs) they have
trunks up to 24 inches in diameter.
....It is beautiful country around Inari.
The ground cover abounds in berries and flowers in the summer. The Laplanders,
who live there, are a short jolly people, who often dress in their bright,
colorful traditional costumes.
....Traveling in this extreme northern
part of the world is done on first class blacktop roads and transportation
is by excellent new tour buses. The accommodations are very good with