Life, a romantic poem

This poem of a young mother’s delight at her baby girl’s beauty comes from the 1920s. What romanticism: Lord Byron done proud! The author is Susannah Brooks Overton, and her daughter, the little girl of the lyrics, is Sarah Frances Overton Partridge. Sarah died in April this year. Her family printed this poem in the bulletin for the memorial service. Thanks […]

Cool Spring Natural Cemetery

At a monastery in Virginia, death is like a cool spring: the Cool Spring Natural Cemetery at Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville. Piedmont Pine Coffins and its cottage industrial home, Melleray Farmstead, proclaim to take inspiration, in part, from monks and monasteries. And it’s true! The retreats and visits I’ve made during the course of […]

Green burial cemetery — what is it?

So what is a green burial cemetery? It’s come up in conversation lately because I’ve been asking family members, How do you want to be buried? Trying, as I should, to walk the talk of a green burial advocate — and plan ahead! One relative said he’d prefer to be buried in a green burial cemetery. […]

Pine coffin party planned

Hand tool pro and Popular Woodworking editor Christopher Schwarz is planning a party to build his own coffin. Foresightful of him! He wrote a blog post about it recently. Word on the street is that they’ll use kerf-bending to make the sides of the coffin. Here at Piedmont Pine Coffins, we plan to develop a […]

To be a saint: market day @ Melleray Farmstead

If you’d like to know how to be a saint, don’t necessarily follow me, but do read on. The first market day — Sunday 8 June — for the Garden Project at Melleray Farmstead netted about $180. Garlic, potatoes, shallots and sugar peas were going like sourdough pancakes at a gold miners’ camp. The Garden Project […]

The garden gates of Melleray Farmstead

The garden gates at Melleray Farmstead, the cottage industrial home to Piedmont Pine Coffins, have in their design a nod to our inspiration from monks and monasteries. No, we’re not monks — we’re a small family with a unique small business — but our lives have brought us through twists and turns to an appreciation of the […]

It’s illegal, plus other green burial myths

Interested in a simple pine box coffin? It’s illegal, goes one of the top green burial myths. Who wants to be a scofflaw for all eternity? So we better look into this and find out. For those readers just joining in, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins. At our cottage industrial home, the off-grid Melleray Farmstead […]

Chatham County, of thee I sing

Live in Chatham County? Then you count yourself lucky. Don’t? Move and likely you will. It was Chatham County’s predilection for the fringe of possible on the fringe of the Research Triangle that attracted us — my father and me, in 2006 — when we were looking for land. At that point Piedmont Pine Coffins and […]

Simple pine box bookshelf

Last week I built a simple pine box bookshelf for a shepherd. Now I know what you’re thinking, but stop it. Shepherds can too read. It’s time we stopped imagining them illiterate and waiting around for the Word to be born. David the sheep shearer and yes, shepherd, came in April to visit Melleray Farmstead, […]

The perfect green burial

I don’t own horses, and I don’t care to. They’re too big and they cost a lot to keep. So why can’t I get them out of my head for the perfect green burial? Readers of this blog may recall discussion of the perfect life that precedes a green burial, but now let’s turn time’s arrow. […]

Burial vs cremation: WWJBD?

In burial vs cremation, which is greener? Well, WWJBD? No, that’s not James Brown. No, not Jimmy Buffet either. Nor Justin Bieber, Johann Sebastian Bach, or Jessica Biel. Not Joan Baez. Not Jennifer Lopez, either. I just like her, that’s why. Not Jason Bourne. Not Jack Bauer or Joe Biden. Not Julie Byrne. What would James […]

Mount Athos, “kingdom of monks” — part 2

Find below the second part of a 1990 travelogue about Mount Athos. If you’re just dropping in now, here’s the backstory. Mount Athos is the famed monastic republic in northern Greece. I count Mount Athos as one of the foundations for Melleray Farmstead and Piedmont Pine Coffins. Since I like to talk about monastic inspirations for our […]

Mount Athos, “kingdom of monks” — part 1

Mount Athos is the famed monastic republic in northern Greece. I count Mount Athos as one of the foundations for Melleray Farmstead and Piedmont Pine Coffins. Since I like to talk about monastic inspirations for our place, here’s a peak into the old file cabinets and into the archives — into the past that forms us in the […]

Dovetail joinery for pine coffin corners

Dovetail joinery came up at a funeral this week. What’s a better look for the corners of a Piedmont Pine Coffin, I asked the funeral director, as a beautifully decorated pine coffin was being fitted into its concrete vault and lowered into the grave. Post-and-panel construction, or dovetail joinery? I’d used post-and-panel for this particular coffin, and with […]

Affluenza, green burial, and tiny house life

Is there an affluenza vaccine, and is green burial part of it? Is living in a tiny house the cure for consumerism? Would it were so, would it were so. I wish. Then we’d have an easy answer to the question I posed in a recent post, For what sort of life is a green […]