Holy Grail

Ever try to find a material or component for a project, but can’t? The ongoing search can escalate to an obsession.

I needed some bamboo for a recent project, one of the last for a current book I’m working on. The reason it was one of the last projects, in fact, was because no matter how hard I looked I just couldn’t find the appropriate bamboo.

What I needed was a single, fairly short section of bamboo about 2″ in diameter. Now, bamboo itself is fairly easy to find, and I located dozens of sources. But without exception it was all either a) way, way to narrow, b) way, way too long, or c) only available in quantities sufficiently large for building a condo for Gilligan. The Skipper, too.

I looked for what I needed for a couple of months, constantly bumping the project down the to-do list. Nearing the end of the list my searching became more frantic, often consuming hours of Internet time. I never did find any.

In the end I faced two choices: Replace the project with another, or use a different material. I used a short section of PVC instead. The project came out OK (in fact, the extra weight of the PVC was a benefit), but I was certainly disappointed.

Of course, as life often has it I was driving home yesterday when I passed a field adjacent to a housing development. I typically drive that way several times a week, but what caught my eye yesterday was the fact that at the edge of this field is a large grove – if that’s the right word – of bamboo.

Sadder still, I first noticed that bamboo nearly nine years ago.

A.J.

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