a debt

CW 3


I spend a lot of time thinking about connections and chronologies. If you have read my blog much, you know that most of my woodworking connections came through one place, and in that place one family; Country Workshops, and Drew & Louise Langsner. I have been made to feel a part of their family since the early-to-mid-1980s, when I became a regular student at the workshops there. In 1988, I spent several months living with them and their daughter Naomi, who was then about the age my kids are now, 8-9 years old. We’ve been connected ever since.


A big shock came through last weekend, when Drew & Louise’s new son-in-law, 32-year-old Teo Reha was killed in a logging accident in western North Carolina. It’s heartbreaking news; Naomi & Teo had just moved back to the Langsner farm last fall, and set up the old cabin there as their home. They got married on the farm in June. I saw Naomi last summer for the first time in many, many years, and we chatted about when she was a kid, how much she was looking forward to coming back home – that sort of thing.

Louise sent a couple of notes about the burial – it sounded amazing.

“Hello, Peter. We had a very beautiful burial today, up on our pasture looking out over the mountains. All of our friends have been super supportive and giving. Teo’s friends dug the grave and were here to tell stories and make us laugh. Naomi is surrounded by her women friends. Her [biological] mother Kay has been here with her constantly to give guidance and ceremony. It is an incredible feeling to know we are part of such a strong web of friendship and community. It is a terribly painful time. We all had so many dreams of how we would grow old together. It has been especially wonderful to get to know both Naomi and Teo’s friends better and to know they will continue to be part of our lives. Curtis [Buchanan] came and pulled weeds in the garden and returned to build the coffin. It meant so much to us. ..There are no words.

I have never met Teo, so again I’ll let Louise’s words do the job:

“about Teo. He loved his job and was very good at it. He and his boss Joe had a dream of helping people log sustainably and helping the forest be more healthy. He loved poetry and explosives, hunting and animals. He was dedicated to the land and forests, family, community, and most of all Naomi. We only knew the tip of the iceberg of this young man, and even that was larger than life. Our friends are carrying us through this, but it is unbelievably painful. Love to you and your dear family. Louise”

I asked the Langsners if I could write something here on the blog; and Louise said yes. They have given so much to our woodworking community over the years, if you were ever there, then you know how much of themselves they put into Country Workshops. I’m back here in Massachusetts right now, but my thoughts are with my friends back on that North Carolina mountain.

Beyond that, all of us are in debt to a logger somewhere. Every stick of wood that hits our benches, lathes, shaving horses or laps; a logger, either amatuer or professional, felled the tree. Let’s all keep them in mind, and hope for their safety as they carry out this very dangerous occupation which we all rely on so much. To us, they are all but invisible, but they have names, families and loved ones out there.

Love to Naomi, Drew & Louise, from Peter, Maureen. Rose & Daniel

14 thoughts on “a debt

  1. Terrible to leave his community and family so soon. Thanks for sharing with us as you travel this journey. Thanks also for the reminder of all those whose efforts enrich our lives even when we are not aware of their work.

  2. This is truly sad and a great loss. I have been falling trees since my pre-teen years and have had a couple close calls. It is a dangerous job, and one that many times goes unappreciated. Our prayers go out to all that new him.

  3. I enjoyed your interaction with. Roy on his show. I ‘d be happy to see more.
    Your friends are fortunate
    To have a good friend that you are..
    I bought your videos and books. Your. Work/ Art, inspires me .

  4. You are an amazing friend.I can’t begin to grasp the loss they are feeling,but to do so as they are and still be so eloquent in their writing of the event is amazing. Thank you for putting the whole event into perspective and allowing us to put them into our thoughts as well.

  5. I was there at the end of last month for the bowl & spoon class. I spent some time talking to Teo about his work. A remarkable man. So sad for Naomi. I lost my brother this week so I know some of what this feels like.

  6. i just made my first trip a month back to build the rustic windsor. I had the honor of eating a meal with him. He struck me as honest, gentle, and smart. It is a magical place and I certainly feel their loss. rod

  7. So hard to take. So hard to contemplate, must less understand. I know for a fact that Drew, Louise and Naomi are deeply spiritual people, our meals together were experiences that went beyond the quick word to a Higher Power… each time I held Drew’s hand, he and I would have eyes brimming with tears, thinking the Lord had been kind ot us another day for bringing such bounty to us all… I will never forget this. As I write words that simply cannot comfort the undeniable, the loss of Teo must somehow be met on a day-by-day basis …. and I call upon our fellow woodworkers, alumni of Country Workshops…. could maybe we try to schedule a class somehow this Fall….all of us (as many as we can muster….we are the woodworking militia, are we not?)…. and return to our spiritual habitat that through Drew & Louise’s guidance, gave us so many hours of amazing pride and joy? I think in Teo’s honor, and in giving our all to Naomi in the best way we know how, maybe we could do this!?! Come October…mid-to-end…I think I could make the trip down… how many “ayes” do we have to maybe heading down? Finally, Naomi, I…..we….are so sorry for what happened to your beloved husband. Each day passing no doubt brings tears afresh with what you are dealing with. Do know that there are prayers from all corners of this nation, from many corners of this world, that are with you and your Mom and Dad as I write this! Celebrating his Life, as often as possible, may bring you comfort… and ultimately…somehow and someday….precious joy. We had him but for a little while, but rest assured in confidence that we shall be reunited once again, this I know. The sun shall rise again, and into the sorrow’d heart we shall somehow move on. You are NEVER alone, EVER. In my absence, please also know that in addition to giving you the tenderest, most gentle hug I could possible muster, could you please give one from me to your Mom and Dad? Peace be with you……. (Dr.) James Murphy Class of ’92

  8. I lived with Teo at Twin Oaks Community where I’ve lived for thirteen years. Teo was kind, a skilled builder, a great musician with a beautiful singing voice, concern for the land and a work ethic few possess. I work on a small forestry and logging outfit at Twin Oaks and I felt a chill when I heard of his accident. Our motto is a day where no one is hurt is a good day. I felt a kinship with Teo. He inspired me to pursue woodwork further and perfect some craft which I chose in building windsor chairs for Twin Oaks community.

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