Sunday, February 12, 2006

Today's road trip

Look what I got!

What you see here is me holding a thirteen-foot agave stalk (I'm the one with the saw.). Agave, also known as the "Century plant" or American aloe, is the plant tequila comes from. Strictly speaking, Tequila Agave is a different species from American Agave, but we're dealing with internet botany here, so you lose some of the important details.

I've known for a while that people could make didgeridoos out of agave stalks, but I had always heard that the plant grew in the southeast US in desert-type places like Arizona and New Mexico- places I do not live. I also somehow failed to realize that I live in central Texas now, and therefore live in the desert, and therefore live in a place where agave grows. Steve from the Oztindidjgrp told me that he had made a few dozen didjes from various stalks around the Austin area. I played his and Robert's both- an agave didj has a great power to it and a quick response. I suspect this may be partly due to the thin and porous walls of such an instrument.

I posted on craigslist asking for anyone who knew the location of agave stalks. I got two responses- one fellow told me he spotted one about a half hour away- much closer than the other location and already cut down, though the other person has many stalks on their property, however. I wouldn't mind having a whole slew of stalks to work with, but I don't have a workshop.

I had to get up early (for a Sunday) in order to make the road trip. I've got a regular game on Sundays, so I needed to be to the north edge of the city by one in the afternoon. Cat and I drove out to Bastrop, found the location of the stalk, and I knocked on a total stranger's door and for all intents and purposes asked him if I could haul away his yardwaste. He had no problem with it.

The stalk is really lightweight, much lighter than it looks, and much lighter than my other didj. I'd guess it's about half as dense, but I'm no materials engineer. The stalk obviously had been cut down or fell some months back- the break in the base was not clean and the blooms at the top had withered away and the top had started to rot. Luckily, we brought a saw and readily removed about a yard or so. We also knocked out some of the pith in the center using a stick. For a brief moment, I imagined taking a walkabout and attempting to craft my didj without the aid of modern tools, but then I came to my senses and decided to haul it back to the city and seek aid from those who know.

Of course, that doesn't mean that I'm not going to entertain thoughts of retiring to be a professional didj crafter.

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