Dear Curiosity Journal,

On Saturday and Sunday, Driftless Curiosity hosted the Creative Woodworking Weekend, a program which offered a diverse set of perspectives, expertise, skills, and ways to work with wood. We began our day on Saturday by hiking into the woods with forester Juli Van Cleve, who helped us better understand Wisconsin trees, forest health, and the importance of being good stewards of the wood resource. Then we listened to Shanna Cota share about the wood element from the Taoist perspective of the 5 elements. We learned about the metaphysical qualities of trees and the nature of wood, as well as how the 5 elements show up in our personalities. Shanna presented us with wise and fascinating insights into how the wood element is understood in Chinese Medicine, and how it appears in facial characteristics. On Sunday, Shanna returned to offer one-on-one face readings to participants, which was a highly valued time of self-reflection, and underpinned the other program offerings with deeper meaning. We spent Saturday afternoon, and most of Sunday, with guest artist, Ryan Rothweiler, who took us on an epic journey of craftsmanship from a whole red oak log to 6 milking stools using hand tools. First, participants took turns using wedges and mallets to crack open the log. It was a rich sensory experience from the physicality of swinging the mallet, to the rich earthy smell of the inner wood, to the sensational sound of the splitting. A collective excitement mounted as the wood began to come apart, and we gave a group cheer when it was successfully divided in two, an empowering act indeed, one I imagine our ancestors cheered about as well. The act of breaking down trees for firewood, building, and art has been with people for a long time, and this program was such a wonderful way to connect to this aspect of being human. Ryan taught us how to use tools from the past, long before electricity, when metal was much more expensive and mostly reserved for the battlefield. He shared fascinating cultural context for the tools and furniture styles, which gave us another lens to look at how humans have valued and worked with wood throughout history. Participants settled in on the shave horse for the slow process of whittling down the 3 legs with a draw knife, which cultivated a deeper appreciation for handmade wooden furniture. There was a meditative, focused, rhythm to the process, which was both physically taxing and profoundly satisfying. When the milking stools started to come together on Sunday, it was wild to think we started with a whole log. Participants will put the finishing touches on the project at home, where they will wait for someone to ask them about it, so they can tell the epic story of building it with their bare hands.