A walking stick can be a very handy tool if you spend much time at all in the outdoors. It can help you keep your balance as you wade across a swift stretch of stream. It can be used to bash a rattler that is endangering your kids or dog. I even read of a case in the Pacific Northwest where a lady was walking with her small grandson when he was attacked by a mountain lion. The Grandmother beat on the lion until it dropped the boy and she was able to get him to the hospital in time to save him.
As a fanatical angler it always gave me comfort to know that Jesus was familiar with fishermen. In Matthew 4:19 he said “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men”. While I’m certainly no biblical scholar, I think it was about a thousand years before Christ, when the Psalmist wrote: “thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”. Yes indeed, a simple tool that has been used for thousands of years still has uses today.
I went to my Grandson Joshua’s birthday party last weekend. For awhile I was at an impasse as to what to get a six year old boy for his birthday. Then it came to me: his very own handmade oak walking stick would be a perfect gift. Earlier this year I removed a volunteer valley oak that had taken root in my garden. I love oak trees, but to have one growing right next to your house foundation is not the right location. The oak sapling had had grown to about ten feet in length and was about an inch and three quarters in diameter. Thinking it would be a shame to waste a perfectly good piece of oak, I set the sapling aside to cure.
I mentioned to my son Donald that the oak sapling would make a great walking stick for Joshua’s birthday. The two of us measured, whittled and sanded the oak until it was ready for us to carve Josh’s initials in it. Then we carved and sanded some more and finally put on several coats of varnish. I’ll bet Josh is the only kid in his class to have his own custom made walking stick.
You can buy a nice walking stick at various hardware, farm supply, or outdoor recreation stores from $20 and up. If you are at all handy with simple tools you can make your own staff that will serve you for years. I frequently take walks in the riparian woods near my home. It is not only good exercise but good for my soul as well. The other day on one of my walks I spotted numerous candidates for possible walking sticks. Generally the harder woods make excellent staffs, so keep your eyes open for suckers growing from an old black walnut stump. Of course oak saplings are great too. I once made a dandy walking stick from a sucker that had sprouted off my redbud tree.
In today’s hectic, modern world, sometimes its good therapy to slow down a little and use your hands and some old fashioned ingenuity to make a tool that is a bridge between the past and the future. What the heck, get out there in the woods and make your own walking stick. I think you’ll be glad you did.
Until next week,