|Photo supplied by Mr Kelsey. It was WAY prettier than any of the ones I took.|
I saw a lot of pretty country while driving down to Charlotte, North Carolina.
One of the surprises was a nut orchard in West Virginia. I had no premonition that I would see what I saw. It was totally unexpected. It was like getting a surprise birthday party on a day that is not your birthday.
Part of what contributed to the shock was the nature of the road. I was driving south on U.S. 35 which alternates between a limited access expressway and a common, two lane, paved road.
|The Kanawha river valley has it all: Water, deep, fertile soil, sheltered topography, wood resources.|
The nut orchard was on the portion that was two lane, paved road. The road was running up the Kanawha river valley heading southeast out of Henderson, West Virginia. The Kanawha river valley is broad, and flat and very, very fertile. The highway runs along the west side of the valley where surface starts to roll upward like the sides of a soup bowl.
Rounding a bend....BAM! There it was.
I did not have time to stop on the way down because of the pup I was delivering, but I made a point of stopping on the way back.
Mr John Kelsey is currently growing about 300 filbert trees and, at the moment, has 36 varieties on trial. Mr Kelsey said the number of varieties varies from year-to-year. "I get mad at a tree and yank it out. Then I plant a different variety to see if it will do any better."
|I asked Mr Kelsey if he had any recommendations for new planters. He told me he did. He even had it typed up. This is a "snip" taken from the document he gave me. Click on it to embiggen.|
He has yet to find a variety that he considers "commercial" in the Eastern United States.
He took a shine to me even after I misidentified an elm tree for a heartnut tree.
He showed me his work shop.
|Mr Kelsey makes fine, bent-wood rocking chairs.|
|Same chair shown without flash to show the pattern in the wood, Black Cherry in this case.|
|Numbered editions, no less.|
Then Mr Kelsey showed me some picture frames he was "banging together out of some salt-and-pepper walnut" he had cut on the property.
|Photo showing detail of corner and how he matched up the sapwood-heartwood line.|
He sounded a little bit disgusted by that turn of events.
He is trying to shift customers over to his son who is no slouch as a woodworker.
|John's son is making a guitar from scratch. Look at the color and grain on the piece of maple he is using for the neck! Picture taken with flash to give readers a sense of the color.|
|The mirrors in the neck turn on-and-off like LEDs as you tip it relative to the light source. Picture taken without flash to highlight the grain. Mr Kelsey uses his greenhouse to dry lumber in the off-season. His son found this piece in the pile.|
|The knobs are laminated from wood. The knob on the left is not for the guitar, it is for a stove.|
Everywhere you walk around Mr Kelsey's place you see experiments in progress and clever, one-of tools.
Mr Kelsey takes great delight in "automating" processes. It is what he did back when he was a working stiff and I bet he was very, very good at it.
He informed me that the drive for this unit was salvaged from a piece of furniture, a "massage chair".