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‘Tis the season for gathering firewood …
Tallman, who lives with his wife near the small town of Monarch, was “discovered” by the Great Falls Tribune a few years ago and featured in this snowy snippet:
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist the owlish humor.)
Gary, who was 82 in the video, told the newspaper, “I started building them just because I enjoyed doing it—and to take a picture and send it off to the grandkids. It surprised me people are fascinated by it.”
His wife, Marilyn, was not so surprised, saying, “Everybody doesn’t notice how many tones in the wood there are. He sees beauty in all kinds of things. We’ve always admired our woodpile. We both like watching for what’s interesting in the earth. And an awful lot is.”
According to Gary, his woodpile mosaics take around 20 hours to complete (after he sketches his design and sorts the logs by hue). After his work is finished, though, it is soon destined to disappear—much like the ephemeral art of a snowman. When the Tallmans need the wood, they harvest it from the masterpiece. A perfect balance of poetry and practicality.
And, speaking of poetry …
Few of Gary’s firewood fans realize that he is also something of a cowboy poet. He published a book of poetry in 2011 called Montana Paths, which features a photo of one of his wonderful woodpiles, dubbed “Montana Hooter,” on the back cover.
Ready to wield an axe and create your own wooden wonders? Check out my handy tips, techniques, and tool list in my first book, MaryJane’s Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook.