There is unrest in the forest

“There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas…”

I may have already mentioned where I was raised: in the wild Wannies of Northumberland, miles from the nearest bus stop or shop.


I plodged in this burn and climbed this tree many times as a child

My bedroom window looked out over a pinewood forest and there were farms on either side. I used to love watching the rhythms of the day, as the sheep in the field (of which I could see only one top corner) would start their day waking all huddled in this corner but then slowly progress across the field out of my view as the day moved on. Conversely the beasts would start the day at the other end of the field and slowly work their way up to this corner for nightfall. And so the days progressed with the animals swapping roles on different days.

My parents still live there and a couple of years ago my father presented me with two beautiful wooden chopping boards he had made from some timber that he had taken from a beech tree he had felled.


A chopping board made by my father from a beech tree grown in the same place as me

To me, these are not just chopping boards but physical memories: A totem of my childhood, of the countryside, and ultimately of my identity. Much of that childhood was shared with my best friend who came over often to our house, and vice versa. So much so that years later, at university, I was in a telephone-kiosk dialing the familiar number to connect me to my parents. It was only as my best friend’s mum answered the phone that I realised I had dialled not my parents but my best friend’s parents; so familiar was the number to me that I had recalled it as though it were family!


Chopping board pre-treatment

Back to the chopping board then. As you may see from the above picture, it was beginning to get stained. I really didn’t want this board to get too stained and nor did I want it to warp or for the joints to begin separating. Time for my trusty Skydd* mineral oil!


Skydd: food -grade mineral oil from Ikea

Food-grade mineral oil such as this is perfect (mainly because it is designed specifically) for chopping boards such as mine. All I needed was an old rag to rub the mineral oil into the wood.

As my board had never been treated before, it was pretty thirsty, but I still only put a small amount on the cloth, and rubbed it in to make sure I had even cover across the board, before going back over it again as it soaked in. I then left it overnight before giving it one more treatment of the same.


Little and often, as the saying goes…

I have several untreated wooden chopping boards in my house (untreated in that they have not been given a varnish or similar coating at manufacture): All of these boards get a roughly annual scrub-up with a stiff brush, bar-soap, and hot water. Once thoroughly dry they get another oiling, to keep them happy and healthy into my old age.

No deadwood in this household…

PS. Are you wondering where the second board went??

*Skydd is Swedish for ‘protect’


About Hannah Wiggins

An ICT specialist, musician, landscape archaeologist, linguist and crochet enthusiast with over 40 years' life experience packed with constant adventure and learning. Articulate, dedicated and passionate in everything I do.
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7 Responses to There is unrest in the forest

  1. CastIronDan says:

    Nice chopping boards from dad! A nice quote from “the trees” too!

  2. A lovely little meditation on spirit of place and the connection between artefacts and memories.

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