Shelley, Author at West Wind Hardwood
Rail Trails, Tall Trees and Cougars

Rail Trails, Tall Trees and Cougars

Once upon a time, in a land far away in wilds of British Columbia dwelt the fortunate. Forests thrived; trees reached to the sky and animals were abundant.  It was a land rich, rich in natural resources; one of which was logging; not new news.

The sound of axe and handsaw, of trees falling, of whistles blowing were heard throughout the province, up and down the coast and on Vancouver Island.  Throughout Desolation Sound, Sechelt Inlet and the Broughton Archipelago Jan and I have seen the imprint of times gone by.

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Trees of the Southwest Corner of Down Under

Trees of the Southwest Corner of Down Under

The region of Western Australia is a special corner of the world – now one of my favourite places for bush walking and just being out in the woolly wild. Well, it could be if I lived there  Much of the plant life in these forests is unique to the south-west of Western Australia. Trees such as the tingle only occur in this small area and as such provide a window to the past. Some of the plants have origins that can be traced back 65 million years to the super continent Gondwana when Australia was joined with what are now Africa, India, Antarctic and South America.

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Copper Sinks in Santa Clara Del Cobre, Michoacán

Copper Sinks in Santa Clara Del Cobre, Michoacán

Wood…..Copper.  Copper…..Wood.   Not much in common with the exception that both are natural resources; both allow much expression of design and beauty; both call to Jan and Shelley.

This past March knowing that we were returning to the town of Pátzcuaro after 5-years, we came with measurements and a plan to return to the Village of Santa Clara Del Cobre.  The arts and crafts skills in the villages around Lake Pátzcuaro and elsewhere in Michoacán have been passed down to this day, becoming more finely honed with each successive generation, producing craftsmen who are among the finest in the country.

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Taking the “Lesser” out of Our Lesser-Known Species (LKS)

Photo by Jan T. Nielsen – Jalisco (2005)

 Photo by Jan T. Nielsen – Jalisco (2005)

Let’s agree that the term lesser-known species (LKS) describes species whose regional forest potential is greater than its current use.  As a renewable natural resource, tropical forests are unique.  The problem is in the utilization of such a varied and variable mixture of wood species.

Generally the domestic market is less discriminating than the export market and over time a scale of preference develops and the average consumer is generally unaware that thousands of useful wood species exist. Some species are in high demand, while others are merely acceptable. At the other end of the spectrum, however, is a large number of species broadly and variously called “lesser-known species”, “secondary species”, “unpopular species” and “weed species”.

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The Other BC Trees

Trees can be choosy needing certain amounts of moisture, nutrients and sunlight.  Some are more demanding growing only in certain parts of the province.  For example, Pacific arbutus (madrone) occurs only in southern coastal areas within a few kilometres of the ocean where the winter climate is moderate and summers warm.  It likes dry areas; especially prone to rocky outcrops and plenty of sunlight.

Because trees vary in their ability to tolerate environmental conditions, British Columbia sees a variety of ecosystems throughout the province, from lush coastal rain forests to dry, open grasslands and subalpine areas.  But time shifts everything and ecosystems are constantly changing.  Disturbances, whether caused by nature or people, will affect plant communities over time. Who knows what the future holds for the diversity of our forests.

For the now, I wanted to identify four of the more commonly used indigenous hardwood species we see at West Wind Hardwood.  Not all are commercially logged; often we see leftovers from logging cleanup or perhaps trees cleared from agriculturally designated land.

While softwoods are generally known for their structural applications, hardwoods are generally seen in the interiors of our homes.   They have long been used in the production of cabinetry, furniture and flooring for their durability, beauty and warmth.

 BIG LEAF MAPLE – acer macrophyllum

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Traditional Japanese Wood Baths

Buildinvest-unique wood design bathtub
a beautiful bath by Unique Wood Design for a hotel project by Buildinvest, France.

Yesterday,
I shattered the ice
to draw water —
no matter, this morning
frozen just as solid.

– – – – –

Otagaki Rengetsu (tr. by John Stevens)

The ritual of bathing as a means of relaxing and warming is sublime.  Made more so if performed in the outdoors with an outdoor shower for the pre-rinse.  On a crisp, chill morning the experience is humbling.

The Japanese bath or more politely the ofuro (お風呂) specifically a short, steep-sided wooden tub calls to Jan and I.  In fact 26 years ago when we built our current home, we purchased all the plumbing for the master bathroom; only to discover years later a jacuzzi tub would’t be for us.  We sold it – unused with the original stickers – to someone building a house on Protection Island (Nanaimo, BC).  Sayōnara and Good bye; better them than us.  And since then, Jan has set his sight on a soaking tub in the floor – as step down into.  Baths of this type are found all over Japan in houses, apartments and traditional Japanese inns. Read more