Isn’t It Good? Norwegian Wood.

Way back in the 1970s, when John Lennon was still alive, we took many types of wood for granted, although I think Norwegian wood is more a song description than anything else. Apparently, the Beatles, in their leaner days, would break up the furniture where they were staying and burn it in the fireplace to stay warm.

Before container ships, cargo had to be blocked and braced—held in place by wood, so it didn’t shift during transit. If all the weight shifted to one side of a ship, it would heel over then sink. Bad.

If the cargo was flammable or worse (think ammunition or other explosives), the blocking and bracing material had to be fresh wood, since reused wood might have a stray nail that could cause a spark, with very, very bad consequences.

During the Vietnam war, ships would arrive in Vietnam from small ports. Their cargo was often blocked and braced with the shipper’s local “junk” wood. In some cases, the junk wood was teak. Since it had been used once and had nails in it, it was no longer usable. Some of the service members would take it to their hooch and build furniture out of this beautiful teak. They’d then spend the rest of their tour trying to figure out how to get their objet art back home. Some succeeded, while those who failed knew their teak creation would soon be a pile of ash.

Rosewood is another example of a beautiful wood that was once plentiful. Now, guitar makers such as Taylor have to meet strict regulations if they have rosewood to use in building a guitar, AND the rules are equally strict if they ship a guitar that has any rosewood in it, anywhere.

The lesson? Plant trees. You never know what local, unloved, unwanted, species might someday be a rare and valuable commodity. In the meantime, it provides shade, and once it’s full grown, each tree will remove 55,000 gallons of water from the ground and transpire it into the air. Those of you facing droughts won’t appreciate this, but if you’re along the seacoast, you understand the benefits of this.

I like trees. I think Norwegian wood (whatever that is) would be better with roots in the ground and limbs in the air than in the fireplace.

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