A description of someone’s neighbour who knew and loved wood in equal measure. I liked his capacity to identify different types of wood by their smell, and his description of them, particularly that of maple.
Sometimes he would stand there in the courtyard and plane wood into the night. I can see him now, standing there and planing. He loved wood. He could recognize the type of wood by its smell, and the strongest-smelling wood is pine. “Pine smells like good tea, and maple has a happy smell.”
This is from a collection of interviews with Russian people by the Nobel-prize winning journalist Svetlana Alexievich.
If you love wood too, see our celebration of a beautiful book by the great wood-carver David Esterly, one of the finest works concerning makers and making I have ever read.
Source: interview with Marina Tikhonovna Isaichik, in Svetlana Alexievich, Secondhand Time: The last of the Soviets, trans. by Bela Shayevich (New York: Random House, 2017), p. 82
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