Sunday, June 3, 2012

Back Story: Bamboozled

I suppose my fascination with bamboo stems from the fact that I never before lived anywhere that it actually grew. I always thought of it as being a strictly tropical plant. Here in Yellow Springs, it grows abundantly in my backyard, and I am still fascinated with it.

My neighbor has a beautiful stand of bamboo along our property line. It makes a wonderful privacy screen, and I understand that she planted it there long before we moved in, ten years ago, just for that purpose. It seems to have volunteered in one corner of our yard. This year, perhaps in response to our early spring, the stuff is growing like crazy, sprouting up in new places and growing to new heights of perhaps 20 feet. The bamboo has grabbed my attention anew.

When I was a kid in the summer on eastern Long Island, we used to fish with bamboo poles - just a simple pole with a line tied on one end with a bobber and a hook. We called them snapper poles, because we used them only to fish for snappers in the local saltwater canal. All of our other fishing was done with regular rods and reels.

When my children were young, my daughter was a talented flute player. One time we attended one of Pete Seeger's Clearwater Festivals along the Hudson River. I met a fellow there who made bamboo flutes and sold them to the fair-goers. As I purchased one for my daughter, I chatted the guy up about how he had made them.

In my travels, I have also seen thick bamboo poles used for walking sticks. They are quite handsome and fetch a pretty penny, if properly decorated.

So I'm sitting here, staring out at the bamboo one day, wondering if it's going to get out of control if I don't start trimming it back. And, you guessed it, I start thinking about fishing poles, flutes and walking sticks.

Yesterday, I cut a piece that was about 15 feet long and put it on the rail of the back deck to let it dry. This morning, I cut it into two pieces, one long thin one for a snapper (crappie/blue gill) pole and a shorter, thicker one for a walking stick. As the flute is likely a more complicated project, I have decided to hold off on it until I have tested the drying process on my two other products. If all goes well, look for me at Street Fair, if not next fall, then definitely in the spring.



Unknown said...

As your bamboo dries, the open ends may split up to the cross-section rings. You might try binding the ends with some twine to prevent the splitting.

Virgil Hervey said...

Thanks, Michael. I was hoping for some advice.