In this case, the driver decided to take all trunks instead of coming back to pick up the few remaining ones. He was surprised when he noticed that even with those extra trunks, his load was not as heavy as he had expected. He asked me, "Forester, I have never transported wood that was so light! How is that possible?" I was thrilled, because it showed that we had good reason to leave the branches on trees until March.
When there is a will, there is a way, and I finally found a fellow forestry worker from the 'Salzburger Land' (the area around Salzburg in Austria), who took on the job. It was autumn when we finally selected the trees and the contract was signed. On 7 Jan 1989 at 4am, the five of us (the architect insisted he and his friend were part of the party, the logging contractor, my dog and myself), started our tour.
His conviction and his burning desire were contagious. This task increasingly fascinated me and I was looking to do this job with a professional wood cutting contractor. I couldn't send my forestry workers to hike up there for five hours in snow up to their bellies to get those few selected trees.
After we compared those trees with some others in a different, lower altitude valley, he was sure that only the ones in 'Johannistal im Karwendel' were meant for his house. He believed in the impossible and his thoughts were constantly preoccupied with the question of how and who was cutting those selected trees at this specific time of the year when the most dangerous avalanches were waiting to be triggered.
It usually is around Christmas to early January when there is about two meters of snow throughout the valleys and mountains of my forestry district. "Impossible" was my first reaction. "At this time, the path up to the small 'Ahornboden' is too dangerous because of avalanches." The architect insisted.
I too was familiar with wood which stayed straight and true like the very slow-growing and mature trees up in the high valleys of the 'Karwendel' mountains. Only the most experienced master violin-builders would seek to use these precious trees and the time chosen to harvest them is of utmost importance.
The architect knew however, that it should be possible to do the sae jobs with untreated wood, if only one found the right type! He came to see me because he had heard about moonwood and that I at times was selecting trees for violin and instrument builders who traditionally used moonwood.
This meant wooden beam ceilings, a large gallery with solid beams, wide wood flooring and an outdoor patio all built with untreated wood. He was aware that usually the wood used for this type of job would be composite lumber, glued together with adhesives (glue-lam) and for the outdoor patio, it would have been high-pressure treated and impregnated with copper chrome arsenic.
It was autumn 1988 and I was employed as a forester in the Tyrolean Alps, at the 'Karwendelstein' mountain range (close to Salzburg) when I was visited by a well-known architect from Munich. He was planning to build a house for his family and he wanted to integrate his ideas about healthy building materials with aesthetically pleasing design solutions.
The boards for siding and floors were stacked for several weeks to dry. They were tongued and grooved and dressed all by hand. The width of the boards was always determined by the tree, never by us. Most of the time we squared the beams with an axe which meant more waste, but no one was worried about this in the remote valleys of the Austrian Alps and we were much faster handling the axe than the saw."
There are people who determine the best days to harvest wood by looking at the 'moon' phase and position. Are they just dreamers or is there something worthwhile to this traditional approach, something which can reveal answers to our very real and urgent questions today?
To use natural, untreated wood could be the answer to many concerns. It also can be of great assistance to the building industry to develop a healthier way of building. It would have a positive impact on global problems like forest decline and dieback. The consumption of fossil fuels would drop dramatically and allow us to have a new look at a healthy lifestyle more in harmony with nature.
It will also be of interest to parents who want their children to grow up healthy and free from allergies and asthma. Chemically treated wood can be the cause of severe health problems and also turns wood into toxic waste which poses disposal problems.
Regardless of whether you are interested in building with wood, toys or furniture, this book will give you a better insight into nature's laws and traditional lore. You will find out how our ancestors managed the forests within the yearly seasons and cycles and how you can use this to your best advantage.
Since then I have read his books and visited the Research Centre in Goldegg and the saw mill in Gusswerk. I strongly feel his knowledge needs to be kept alive and made available to the English speaking population. I am glad to have had the opportunity to translate Erwin's first book into English. - Iris Detenhoff
On a trip back home, I had the opportunity to listen to a talk by Erwin Thoma at a Timber Industry Conference in Wolfsberg, Austria. Afterwards I approached him with more questions about the moon and wood. It was a wonderful meeting of kindred spirits.
I remember the smell of freshly cut trees in the cold winter, the stacked piles of logs at the roadside, the feel of rotting wood turning to mulch in my hands. Nowadays I live in Australia and publish a yearly moon diary which helps people tune their activities to the lunar cycles throughout the yearly seasons.
Holz100 Canada Inc.