Saturday, January 12, 2013


Woodwork II
before (summer)

after (winter)

There are different sorts of wood work in this forested countryside. On recent weekends, with the help of a very capable local woodsman, we have been carrying out some forest management, thinning the crowded downy oak (quercus pubescens), field maple (acer campestre), manna ash (fraxinus ornus) and the occasional wild cherry (prunus avium), to give those left more space and light. When overcrowded they tend to grow spindly and tall. We also remove as much of the creeping ivy as possible, for it is unsightly and strangles the trees. Within a few years this part of the wood will look more pleasant, with lateral branches developing. As a result we harvest a lot of firewood. 

The downy oak is particularly prized for its wood for burning and in the past these oaks were harvested for the manufacture of charcoal. We have been told that the grandparents of local people built carbonaie or charcoal clamps on our hill; it is an activity which may have gone on for centuries. We can still see where they worked on the brow of the hill; the ground is flat and probably layered with charcoal leavings.

A friend has told me that the soccer stadium in Florence sits on a bed of charcoal from the Radda area. Her friend Benito, as a young man, made and delivered some of the charcoal that gives the stadium its drainage. Here, about twenty years ago, local friends made a carbonaia, a charcoal clamp.  It had a central core from which carefully-stacked wood radiated. The central core was lit, and the fire smouldered for a few days until all the wood became charcoal.

after (spring)

waiting for the final chop

that same wood chopped, split, moved and stacked in early summer

stacking systems vary

this pile is three logs deep and man-high

in all its glory...waiting for winter
For really keen woodsmen and women: have a look at this article about the fine art of woodcutting in Norway.

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