Largo, Florida – On most days you can find Reynato Aquino in his garage carving out a piece of paradise.
The 73-year-old retiree takes daily walks to keep his body active and fit. He keeps his mind active too.
One day on his walk Aquino noticed branches that had been cut back or fallen from trees on his path. That’s when inspiration struck.
Aquino picked up a few of the branches and took them to his garage. The more he looked at them the more he saw how beautiful there were and his new hobby of whittling was born.
It has given birth to beautiful and unique walking sticks.
He calls his creations “Tungkor,” which in his homeland of the Philippines means walking stick. It’s a new hobby that has given him hours of delight.
Aquino says, “It’s so refreshing because the time will pass so quickly. My wife says, ‘It’s time for lunch,’ and I say, ‘Wait, wait, I am right in the middle of something.’”
Aquino says each piece has a story to tell but you have to listen.
Aquino begins by carefully removing the bark and letting the wood dry in his garage. That process can take as long as three months. Putting the branches in the sun would be faster, but it would make the wood very brittle.
After it has dried, Aquino begins bringing out the natural beauty in the branches. Some of the walking sticks have the faces of wild animals like bears or monkeys.
Aquino believes almost everything can be given new life or a second chance. One look around his Largo home and you see what he means. Old coffee cans are planters and he’s turned items like DVD’s, old golf balls and vacuum handles into melodic wind chimes.
He still collects branches during his daily walks, but now he’s also looking up at branches that are still in the trees.
He’s already planning a second life once they fall to the ground or are cut away.
More of Aquino’s work can be seen by going here.