Magic in the forest


We paused on our hike Saturday to admire a stand of mature American Beech trees. In this part of the Ohio valley they are the kings of the forest, their smooth grey bark shining in the shadows underneath the canopy. Then, just as though someone flipped a switch we were under a shower of Beech nuts dropping from the sky. This wasn’t like the occasional plunk, plunk one hears when oaks shed their acorns. More like quick deluge that sounded like rain falling. A few minutes later and all was still again. I’ve hiked the woods all my life and never experienced a moment like this.


We walked a short distance and found an old cemetery. Many of the markers were limestone and melting away like dirty bars of soap. But there were a few other stones carved from a different material in better shape from the early 19th century that still showed crisp fine detail. I did a double take on this stone circa 1807 as it’s carved with a motif that a federal era cabinet maker might have employed. Note the fan carving pattern that looks just like many marquetry patterns found on furniture. Also note the trailing vine and leaves around the border. Cross pollination for sure. Also note this other stone which has a swans neck pediment carved into the face. These clearly show the connection between crafts that were all tied together. May you rest in peace Susannah and Sarah.


George R. Walker

About walkerg

Woodworker and writer
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4 Responses to Magic in the forest

  1. Dave Fisher says:

    Thanks for sharing the story of the special moment in the woods, George. Also the photos of the gravestones. Beautiful work for sure. There are still folks hand carving gravestones. Too bad more folks don’t seek out their work. The stones are so beautiful and unique, plus the machine-cut ones are quite expensive anyway.

  2. inorthwoods says:

    Thanks George, Hope you stuffed one pocketful with those tasty nuts. I’ve seen Tamarack trees do that with a flutter of golden needles …not as tasty Amen for Susannah and Sarah

  3. Where were you hiking George? Cuyahoga national forest or farther south?

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