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Walking Sticks

It was 59° F when I woke this morning. The humidity is still high, but the coolness of the air offsets it enough to open the doors for a bit. Nothing is better than an infusion of fresh air in the house especially after the doors have been shut tight for so long.

This is the type of morning I recall from my childhood — cool mountain air heralding a gradual decline of summer. It almost feels as if I can feel the earth take a deep breath. Maybe it is actually me breathing after another long, hot summer of isolation.

I was thinking about the parallels of the different places I’ve lived. In Virginia, we walked everywhere and it was not unusual for us to trudge through the woods and walk the railroad tracks. On Sundays after church, we would often go for hikes — adults and children alike. We often cut walking sticks to help steady ourselves along the less than level footing.

Boys would often cut walking sticks for the girls they favored. Out came the pocket knife and the rough bark was removed to make a smooth place for the hand to grip the stick. The promise of young love was often expressed by initials carved into the wood.

When living in Alaska, I fell in love with walking sticks cut out of diamond willow. Diamond willow is not a specific type of willow, but the result of a certain fungus that causes the phenomenon on several different types of willow trees. The bark is stripped off, leaving a distinct diamond pattern which I find aesthetically pleasing. Many other people seem to agree these days. Walking sticks carved from diamond willow range in price and many with intricate diamond patterns can be very expensive.

subarcticmike, Diamondwillow, CC BY 2.0

Now we live in an area that has so many beautiful trails with open spaces to hike or take more leisurely walks. Most of the places are hilly or steep terrain so I still employ a walking stick. My current walking stick is retractable made of aluminum with a strap and a compass embedded in the handle. A far cry from the walking sticks of my youth.

It’s still hard to beat diamond willow walking stick, though.