What do you see in the wood?

When people look at a beautiful piece of wood with highly figured grain the response is often "Wow, look at that."  A fine finish acts like a clear lens that reveals grain structure some depth into the wood. With changing light or position the grain can have a "shimmer" effect called chatoyance.  Woodworkers can enhance the figure using dyes to highlight deeper grain patterns--a process called "popping the grain."  But all this is the simple visual effect. When you look at this stool seat, do you see the tree? Do you recognize the twisted pattern is from the crotch of a catalpa? The unusual grain pattern is the reaction of the tree to the forces of the wind blowing the branches, the snow weighing it down in winter. Do you see the kids that used the rope swing tied high in the branches? Part of appreciating fine woodwork is truly appreciating the amazing material that it comes from.