Friday, July 5, 2013

Not Whistling Dixie: Would Like a Collection of Whistle Creek Walking Sticks

For most of the 12 years I have been walking Superdawg, it has been with a splendid Indonesian hiking stick in hand, given to me by my daughter Kristina. It remains a proud possession, propped up against the door, always ready for the next adventure. But now that I have learned that the longish hiking stick is meant more for cross-country and especially hilly jaunts, it mainly occupies an honored place of semi-retirement in my collection, or (I should say) what I hope will be my collection of walking and hiking sticks. The collection now numbers two -- my Indonesian hiking stick and my Whistle Creek walking stick that I ordered from its Colorado manufacturer after a visit to the Memphis Zoo last Thanksgiving.

My gals at Memphis Zoo, Where I Discovered Whistle Creek

It was at the zoo's gift shop that I first got to examine Whistle Creek walking and hiking sticks and fell in love with them. The walking sticks are shorter and ideal for everyday jaunts on neighborhood sidewalks or boardwalks or malls or whatnot. The top of the handle rests comfortably at the break in your wrist when your arm is relaxed by your side, with the cane upright. In writing my letter to Santa Claus, I specified that I wanted the handsome staff made of Carolina Hawthorn. The root of the bush serves as the handle. It is a fine work of craftsmanship and the Hawthorn is almost as thick as a Louisville Slugger, thus lending some sense of security when we venture where unfriendly critters might be about.

Right Hand: Hawthorn: Left, Indonesian Hiking Stick
The Hawthorn has been a perfect aid to me post-knee replacement this spring. I have used it around the home, at the grocery store, on physical therapy appointments, and on my dog walks as I began to be able to handle those. Now, though, I am working up a powerful appetite to have a true Whistle Creek collection. I might have to write to Santa again, or maybe I won't wait and I will just go to the Whistle Creek website ( and order my next finely carved and polished walking stick. As I build my collection, I also am going to need a proper receptacle or rack to store and display them in the hallway. (Maybe we could luck into one of those at a yard sale.)

Making the first choice among models of country walking sticks will be difficult. Will it perhaps be the "Hickory Gentleman's Cane," made of sturdy hickory with a leather wrist strap and a weatherproof finish? On the other hand, the Sassafras Brass Knob sounds completely fine -- and with a polish brass knob that is "actually a decorative hame tip from a horse collar," it is bound to be a conversation piece. Many other choices are available: the Red Oak, Sumac Root, Cattleman's Cane, or maybe even the Alpine Laminated Walking Stick fashioned from Oregon Douglas Fir with Walnut strips laminated. I can picture them all arrayed by my front door, ready for me to select the staff du jour, slip the leash on Sadie, and head out. Maybe if I am a good boy, I can one day possess them all.

Another fascinating item is the "Strap-On Bear Bell," which fastens to your walking stick to "alert wildlife to your presence." There is a rather ingenious feature with a magnet that enables a user to mute the device when the sound becomes annoying. In truth, I have never seen a bear on one of our walks, but a 2,000-bear colony does live in peace in a wide swath of virgin woods not far from here. But would a bear be repelled of attracted by a bell? I can't say, but if I have my loyal Superdawg and my Hawthorn walking stick with me, I will have some sense of security.

© Robert G. Holland

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