On one of those beautiful autumn days, a farmer came along and arranged with me to cut a stack of Swiss pine for him in the next week. Swiss pine is also called arve and grows way up high in the 'Hohen Tauern' over 2,000m above sea level. This wood is famous for the exquisite scent of its aromatic oils.
Because of this harvesting rhythm, the wood mill has its most quiet time in autumn. The harvest begins again in winter at a particular moon. At those quiet times, we do repairs and maintenance work and also mill wood for farmers in the area. In this case the farmer doesn't sell his own wood to the mill, but pays us to saw it into boards and posts for his own needs.
We were eight men who went into the mountains in spring to build a shelter at the 'Windbachtal' (an uninhabited valley high up in the Alps of the 'Hohen Tauern'). First we put together a shelter made out of tree bark. We slept there at night until we finished a little cabin. Maple huts made of available tree bark were the first shelter for carpenters in the Alps.
Dr. Thoma sent the children with their mother away for the holidays, and together with his grandfather, the two replaced the particle board walls and furniture with simple and handmade solid wood. When the children came back and after a short period of time, all symptoms of their allergy disappeared.
The only solution was cortisone therapy. A leaflet revealed that cortisone administered to children under the age of 20 would destroy their kidneys. Luckily, Dr. Thoma's grandfather, a carpenter already in his 80’s at that time, had a different yet simple solution - to replace the toxic components of their home with pure, raw wood.
After many visits to the doctors, it turned out that the children were allergic to particle boards that the furniture and the floors in the new apartment were made of. This surprised Dr. Thoma, as particle boards were made from wood. It wasn’t the wood, said the doctor, but the chemicals seeping out of them.
When Dr. Thoma's children reached schooling age, he had to quit the forester's position and move with his family to Salzburg, a more civilized area. Two weeks after moving into their new apartment, the children began to cough consistently. Over time, their coughing became so intense that it created a threat of suffocation.
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