To me it was just an overgrown limb destined for the woodpile.
But Scott Shouse, the forester extraordinaire, looked at the thigh-thick lilac branch we had just cut down and saw the makings of a rustic wooden treasure box.
Scott, who happens to be married to my wife’s sister, got the idea for making the keepsake box earlier this year when he was visiting Seattle. I had a few questions about how to care for some trees in our yard and shamelessly asked him to put his expertise as an arborist to work. Scott helped me prune a pair of tangled crabapple trees by the curb and get rid of pests plaguing a backyard cherry tree.
He also helped me cut down overgrown lilacs toppled by a spring windstorm. As the saw blade made it through the thickest limb, Scott hatched his plan. He wrapped up a thick section of the dense tree branch and took it back home to his shop in Kentucky, where he turned it into a piece of wooden folk art.
I shouldn’t be surprised by Scott’s handiwork. If Scott invites you over for hot dogs, the links will be homemade. The buns will be fresh-baked and homemade, too. And to wash it down, Scott will pour you a beer he brewed himself.
Scott has some great hobbies. And his day job is pretty cool, too. Scott works for a non-profit promoting sustainable forest-management practices for the owners of small forest lands in The Bluegrass State. As a forester, Scott is involved in groundbreaking work in Appalachia focused on climate change. Working with the Appalachian Carbon Partnership, Scott has helped establish a forest carbon offset market to compensate small landowners who selectively manage their stands of trees in lieu of clearcutting.
Scott knows the Kentucky forests are special, and he also has an affinity for the landowners. The region’s small, private forests can play a big role in helping reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and Scott wants to help the owners become better stewards of the resource.
Scott has an affinity for all things related to trees, really, seeing treasure where others don’t. That includes wind-damaged lilac branches.