Death and snorkeling in Costa Rica

In this part of Costa Rica, you see new beasts. New to a North Carolina lad, anyway. It’s Don from Piedmont Pine Coffins checking in. I’m on a sojourn at the jungle tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. While I’m away, my design partner John Jull will be making and delivering the coffins. Thank you, John! […]

So that our love may blossom

I always listen to this one special song in December, and I catch a weep. Listen below, and you’ll catch some monastic wisdom. If you’re just joining us, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins. In our death work and off-grid farmstead life here in central North Carolina, US of A, we take inspiration from monks and […]

What’s a Weep, and why I wish you one

Do you ever catch a Weep? I caught a Weep this morning from a memory 35 years old. The Spirit moves over the face of the waters, and these days maybe via blogs and FaceBook too, so permit me to explain. But first, for the many new readers: This is Don from Piedmont Pine Coffins, […]

Countercultural coffins and urns

In a radio interview I did recently, here are words that came out of my mouth: We always wanted to be countercultural — in an ADMIRABLE way.  Revelatory. Never knew I thought that till that moment. Really, the things a soul will pronounce on when you’re distracted by wires and microphones. I was referring to the […]

Decline and fall of the Romaine Empire

At Melleray Farmstead, cottage-industrial home to Piedmont Pine Coffins, there’s a big garden with a deer-proof fence. Go to market with lettuce? Yes, please, that’s the dream. But that was before the decline and fall of my romaine empire. For new readers just joining in, we operate on 32 pleasant acres of fields and woods […]

The freedom to hoist one sail

I am ever and still caught in the breeze of a smile I once saw. The smile of a certain young monk. For new readers, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins. We help families do more affordable funerals, naturally. In our work and in our life, we take some inspiration from monks and monasteries down through […]

Spilt milk: a monastic lesson for activists

It was during the time I left teaching to make coffins that our Dexter cow had her first calf and began to give milk. For readers just joining, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins. We make our boxes with hand tools and take our inspiration from farmsteads and monasteries through the ages: self-sufficiency, hospitality, and a […]

What’s the use of profit?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here, then maybe pipe down. I want to die (and live?) poor. But Piedmont Pine Coffins is a business, and the purpose of a business is to generate profit. What are the uses? B-corps, donations, foundations, community action, and the rest. I’ll let you read up on […]

Mid life crisis and the skulls of Mt. Athos

Mid life crisis wants metanoia. Metanoia is Greek for a “change of heart” — a transformation and conversion — and it’s a monastic specialty. For those just joining in, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins. We advocate natural burial and make pine boxes for it. We take some of our inspiration from the examples of monks and […]

We are Vergil’s busy bees

We are Vergil’s busy bees. In my county I’m on the grand jury this year. Today I sit in deliberations. We are a group of 18 random citizens fulfilling a function of our society’s compact. We are all doing the best job we can within the allowances of our personal power. Even, I suppose, the alleged criminals for whose adjudication […]

I want to die poor

I want to die poor. Funny thing for an entrepreneur to say, but saying it I am. Here’s why. For those not in the know, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins and we help families with natural burials. We make simple pine box coffins, urns, and pet caskets. Since we opened in August 2013, our revenues […]

Your big day, your birthday

Go big on birthdays, sez Your Coffin. Yes, if your coffin could talk, it’d tell you to do it up right for yourself when your big day comes around this year. Things in this life have an obverse and reverse, a light and a shadow. Mountains have valleys and birdsong, silence. A birthday, your coffin […]

Practice your dying breath

Practice your dying breath every day, is my advice. That way you’ll have one ready — in your back pocket or up your sleeve — in case your actual last breath goes off-script and isn’t the one you always wanted. More on that below. I’m Don with Piedmont Pine Coffins. As part of my work, […]

Monastic hospitality and green burial

Monastic hospitality links firmly with green burial – both things we’re fans of here at Melleray Farmstead, the cottage industrial home to Piedmont Pine Coffins. What’s the link? Well, we are all guests, we are all just passing. You might say that we are guests passing through this magnificent Earth. Both stewardship (in our context, […]

A coffin-joiner’s prayer

A coffin-joiner’s prayer O length of plank, be straight and true And form thyself to something worth An unrepeatable life on this magnificent Earth We have been making a lot of coffins lately here at Piedmont Pine Coffins. It takes about 12 hours to make one, so there be time to think. Though each box will go […]