Tuesday, October 21, 2008
great walking wheel goes walkabout
I said goodbye to my walking wheel yesterday. It's gone to live with some friends for a few months. I must say I will miss it while it is away, but they promised that I can come and visit any time I want. I know they will take good care of it and it will take good care of them.
So why did I lend my biggest, oldest and most valuable wheel away and who are these people anyway? They must be someone special if I trust them to look after it.
The other day, I was thinking about how this wheel is like a living person. There are parts of it that have got to be at least 400 years old and made by hand with great love and skill. Other parts, like the miner's head, have parts that look like they have been made by early machine manufacturing. The cuts are more even than the hand hewn parts, but not as even as today's techniques produce. That, plus other features, puts that part at about 150 years old. The axle on the wheel itself is obviously new. It's shiny and modern.
Many parts have been repaired over the years, some replaced, some remain the same. A few spokes for the wheel are different than the others, but all of them are deeply worn where hundreds of hours of use by human hands have shaped the spokes of the wheel and worn them smooth. This is not some fragile antique, this is a tool that people have used and loved.
To me, this wheel is a living thing. It grows and changes, gets worn down and repaired. It may not breath or eat, but something in it feels alive. To see it sitting it sitting in my living room gives me a sense of warmth. But, when I take it out into the world, something even more magical happens. Other people see it and interact with it. It gives me such joy to see them with that wheel. Maybe some of these people would go their whole life without seeing a great wheel otherwise and it feels good to share it with them.
The good people of Knotty by Nature will be caring for my walking wheel for a few months. When we dropped it off I gave Stephanie a quick lesson on how to use it (it's in semi-working condition but still needs a bit of adjusting). She gave me a post card with a picture of a great wheel on it. I can put it where my wheel usually lives then when the time comes we can exchange it back again.
The shop has all sorts of stock in it now, even if there is a while yet before they open. I love to see that so much of their merchandise is from local sources. I think it is great that they aim to support the local community and I hope that the community comes out to support them. Also, I hope that, once they are open, if you haven't seen a walking wheel in person before, you can stop by the shop and have a look. It will be there for a few months, but not forever.