Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wooden Dreams

   Whenever I breathe in the heady scent of cut lumber, I'm transported to my father's side in his workshop.  I'm just tall enough to see over the table covered with sawdust, and my dad is explaining a technique or asking me to hand him a tool.  Thankfully, my dad really believed it when he told me I could be anything I wanted; he never saw my gender as a reason to treat me any differently than he would have a son.  I don't remember when he started asking for my "help" in his workshop, but it was a constant in my early life.  It wasn't until I was older that I realized, through talking with friends and reading books, that it wasn't very common for girls to learn woodworking at their father's side.

   During those times in the workshop, Dad taught me so much: how to make repairs to a house, how to build anything you can imagine from wood, and how to keep a home running without calling in help.  He was a good teacher: patient, clear, and enthusiastic. He taught me the names of tools and what he used them for. He showed me how helpful organization was, and made sure I was safe. I had my own pair of gloves (huge on my tiny hands) and a pair of my own safety glasses.  We weren't the only ones in the shop, though Before I was old enough to help him much, my dad created "Segal & Son," a very effective partnership between he and my Zaida.  They eventually added  "& Granddaughters" and my sisters and I were able to join in the work . . . and the fun.  Those memories are priceless.

   The times we made an immediate difference to our family, like the time we fixed the menorah that broke hours before the first night of Hannukah, and those that challenged my fears, like the times we added tar to the many patches on our confusingly leaky roof, are the ones that sparkle in my memory. But it's the deep joy my father felt when he worked with wood that warms my heart most when I look back at those times.

   My parents both worked really hard for many, many years.  It was my fervent hope that when they finally retired, they'd have the chance to do the things they really enjoyed.  What a blessing to see those hopes realized!  Although my parents, like almost every retired person I've met, tend to do more in retirement than they did while working, they both have found time to pursue the things they love best.  For my dad, that's been working in wood.

    Although he's worked on many projects in the past few years, the most recent one really resonated with me.  Dad's been talking about it for a couple of years now, and started collecting the materials for it during my visit last summer, when we visited an art show that featured driftwood sculptures, and a person from the club was selling pieces of raw driftwood.  My dad picked up more pieces during a trip with my mom to their favorite places in Oregon, and this winter, he began work on a candelabra made of his finds.  He prepared and stained the wood, sculpted it in to place, and decorated it with stones and shells picked up on my parents' travels.  It's a gorgeous piece, and I just had to share it here.  It stands not only as a symbol of my dad's joy in working with wood, but as a reminder of several of the many things my parents enjoy now that they're retired: travel, time on the beach, and time together. It gives me so much pleasure to know how happy they are, and it gives me hope that one day I, too, will be able to focus solely on the things I really love.

My dad's beautiful work.



  1. The writing and the sculpture are both beautiful. Thank you for sharing. :-)

  2. Thanks, Jessica! I really appreciate that! :)