I remember as an 8 year old boy sitting in the middle of the Palatinate Forest in Germany on a freshly felled Douglass fir, peeling its bark with a sharp draw knife. The grown men around me cut and peeled the whole stand of trees in one single day. I only got as far as about a meter in length doodling around as children do. Enough to cover me completely in tree sap, the dying tree’s last defence.
That tree and the ones around it became Sommerwald Haus – the house that my father build for us at the edge of Pirmasens, overlooking 40 kilometres of the very forest it had come from. My dad inherited the patch of trees from his mother. The stand of trees had been planted by my great-grandfather before the First World War.
We cut the trees in 1969 when they were between 60 and 70 years old – a common harvesting age for Douglass fir in Germany.
Sommerwald Haus still stands today, the timber prominently displayed as the mortice-and-tendon skeleton of a modernist 1970’s Bungalow. This is where traditional craftsmanship meets modernity. Sommerwald Haus will outlast its replacement cousins down in the valleys.