When I apply the dense matrix of the grinding head, I feel its tight pull against the wood grain. The deep furrows of this mature part of the tree tug the grinder unevenly, threaten to pull me out of the diameter of the chalked outline I have drawn—like my head in size, but evenly circular. When a woodpecker penetrates the bark of a tree, it has chosen a thin-barked tree, or the younger upper reaches of a mature one. Its strikes are repetitive, accurate: a hole is cast. My work on the tree looks haphazard at first, bumbling, of little skill or grace. It is by a law of averages, an evening out of increasingly smooth passes, that the bowl hollows and incrementally takes form. My mental ambition is to scoop. The grinder wants to take off in a nefarious line, grind a deep burning wedge, fall to kick in circles at my feet.
The rings come up quickly, like interstate signs in the rain, postings of new information that arrive and pass as I whip by them. The scale of the grinding action is too much to control a relationship to the rings, this fast intrusion more a break-in than a neighborly visit. Then, the quick smell of vinegar, and the heartwood is shredding wetly under the grinding head beneath my hands.