Wormy Chestnut, Wild Cherry: Car full of Wood from North Carolina

A musical visit and a car-full of wood were part of my drive home from Flute Haven.

I stopped in North Carolina to visit with Kay and Dottye and that turned into music making, wood moving, and story swapping.

You’ll see from the photos that Dottye and Kay helped me load my car – trunk and backseat – with wood.

The wormy chestnut is from a barn, built in the late 1880s, on the farm where Dottye and her husband live.  Dottye showed the markings of where the wood had been hand hewn into rafters for the barn.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dottye said she thought the chestnut trees originally grew on the farm, based on what they’ve learned from the relatives of those who lived on the farm. At the time the barn was built, chestnuts were popular for construction of cabins and barns because the wood was strong and rot-resistant. But in the early 1900s, most chestnut trees were lost to the chestnut blight (caused by Cryphonectria parasitica).

Chestnut trees today are attacked by the blight and die before they grow to 10” in diameter. So these really large chestnut rafters are a rare find.

Prior to my trip to Flute Haven, Dottye said that if I came by for a visit, she’d bring me wood from the old barn, which had been taken down. She and her husband also cut down a wild cherry tree, and she brought sections of that tree for me.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As you can imagine, I was delighted to see all of that wood and think of the possibilities.

The chestnut will make beautiful flutes and kanteles – particularly for sound boards for kanteles..

The wild cherry will be turned into branch flutes.

After we moved the wood, we turned our attention to my wood musical instruments I had with me. I provided training on my flutes and kanteles, and Dottye and Kay practiced. Once they had the fundamentals, we jammed and improvised.

Kay (left) and Dottye
Kay (left) and Dottye

Kay and I have known each other for several years through our work with the JEA Mentoring Program, which matches new high school journalism teachers with veteran journalism teachers.

We’d also gotten to know each other through blogging. Kay had read and liked posts on my blog, and I had been introduced to Farther Along. Kay is one of 13 mothers, each of whom has lost a child, who write as a way of dealing with their loss. Through reading that blog, I met Dottye, another of the blog’s contributors.

We had a fun day of sharing stories and playing music together.

They drove off, saying that they looked forward to sharing songs with their Farther Along blog group when they meet for a writing retreat in November.

I look forward to seeing what “turns out” with this special wood.





  1. Judy, thanks so much for your generosity in coaxing music from us and the gift of music making offered and the great visit. You are a teacher extraordinaire, and your patience is unlimited. I love that the flute seems as though it was made for my hands and voice. It was so good to be able to visit and make some music. Thank you for your words, your stories and all the songs.


Comments are closed.