Continued from page 1
Finally, after what seemed a very long time, he’d begin to talk, softly but firmly, about whatever it was we’d done, why it was wrong, and how disappointed he was that we were having to have this talk. All while, thin slivers of wood gently floated to floor as his knife deftly cut into stick he was whittling.
By keeping his eyes fixed on his whittling, Grandpa made certain he never saw tears rolling down our faces as consequences of our actions washed over us. He never tried to drive home any big point. He always spoke in gentle tones and when he was finished, he stood, snapped his old knife shut, put it back in his pocket, and turned to walk away, never quite looking at us directly.
“Clean up shavings, will you, boys?” he’d say as he slowly walked off porch. The lesson had been learned, and there was nothing left to say.
You know, people don’t seem to whittle like they used to, at least, not way Grandpa used to, or for same reasons. I don’t even carry a knife, and neither do most folks I know. But there are times when I’m working at lathe in my shop—when a long piece of wood curls up from knife and floats down to floor—when I’m suddenly eight years old again, watching my grandpa sitting on porch swing, whittling.
I reach down, pick up shaving and watch it curl around my finger. Then I just stand for a long moment, remembering, until a thought crosses my mind. Maybe I will get myself a small pocket knife, after all. You never know when urge to whittle might overtake me.
© 2004. Gary E. Anderson. All rights reserved.
Gary Anderson is a freelance writer, editor, ghostwriter, and manuscript analyst, living on a small Iowa farm. He’s published more than 500 articles and four books. He’s also ghosted a dozen books, edited more than 30 full-length manuscripts, produced seven newsletters, and has done more than 800 manuscript reviews for various publishers around the nation. If you need writing or editing help, visit Gary’s website at www.abciowa.com.