Zen Whittling, a mindful practice

Whittling by the Habitant

Whittling in the rain

I’ve always enjoyed rainy days. Sure, a slow-paced Saturday spent with a good book and a warm drink is a great way to relax, but the sound of rain on a tarp and the crisp, fresh air of a spring shower is hard to beat, too! I’ll take a serving of both today, thank you!

I met the trail in rainboots and a suit, a couple carving knives in tote, and splashed my way through the puddles of a pleasant morning rain. There’s a spot where the path meets the Habitant River, a little meandering thing that I am so very thankful to have pass through my backyard. It’s a great spot to sit and watch the eddies and eagles. In the past month I’ve had the pleasure of encountering otters, muskrat, ducks, fish, and the absolute largest beaver I have ever seen (seriously, it looked 3 feet before the tail!).

The otters have been the most curious wildlife to watch. One day a few weeks back they were yelling at each other so loud I could hear them half a kilometre away! When I walked up they were so involved with their dispute that I was able to watch for almost five minutes before they caught notice of me and moved their fight upstream.

Today, all is quiet but for that persistent falling of rain on last year’s fallen leaves. I decide to set up a little tarp to settle in for some bank-side carving. From this spot I can see my house and I think of my canoe that still sits in storage, a slight covering of dust accumulating; I suppose it’s fitting to carve myself a little boat to float in its honour, a silent apology for my neglect.

I love carving little boats. It’s one of my go-to whittling projects if I don’t have something on my mind to make when I set out. There is something so appealing for me to sit by a water body and carve a little vessel to set forth on an adventure, not knowing where it will end up or who, if anybody, may find it.

Whittling a small wooden boat
This little wooden boat is starting to take shape here.

There are some alders down beside the trail which will make the perfect material for this vessel, for no other reason than the fact that it’s there pre-cut for me. So I set to work with my knives, thinking right away how much I wish I had brought a small gouge to hollow out the hull. But I make do with the straight knives. As the morning expires to noon, the Habitant River Cruiser (HRC) is fitted with seats and prepared for its inaugural float.

It tracks good and straight, I’m happy to find, so I wade out to set it free. With the water rushing between my legs I watch it float downstream, around the bend, and out of sight. When I get my canoe dusted off this coming week, I wonder if I will find the HRC further down the river, hung up in some roots and grass..

A chill has crept through my raincoat now, inspiring daydreams of a hot breakfast, some tea, and my book. So it is time to mosey on back to the house to settle in to phase two of my rainy day plan.

I filmed the carving of this boat, here is the video!

How do you define the perfect rainy day? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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