DUSTY MOORE HAS carved out an unusual niche for himself - as a specialist in making Native American flutes. He works in a loft on Second Street in Eastport, the smell of cedar prominent, his flutes lined up like soldiers along the wall.
He's made about 5,000 of them.
Moore's route to flutes has been a circuitous one. He is a townie, raised in Admiral Heights in Annapolis, son of a Marine Corps colonel, president of his senior class at Annapolis High School in 1971. He earned a degree in water resource management at the University of Maryland.
His work in those days was never far from the water, first as a safety program surveyor with the Department of Natural Resources, then with two boat canvas companies. Personal circumstances conspired to force Moore to do a little personal inventory about a decade ago.
"I went on a quest to find what makes me happy," he said. "I tried to do what [mythologist] Joseph Campbell urged: `Follow your bliss.'"
His quest - and canvas work - led him into the company of American Indians. "I was invited to replace a tepee on a farm in West Virginia. And then I was asked to join in a sweat lodge ceremony there."
The ritual entailed bringing red-hot stones into a domed tepee made of saplings and covered with blankets. The goal was, first, to sweat, to cleanse oneself, Moore said. And, then, maybe to derive some form of spiritual benefit.
"That ceremony had a major impact on my life," he said. "In its way, it gave me direction, it forced me to rethink my life."
Another sweat lodge ceremony brought him in contact with an Indian flute. "I was enraptured by the sound. It's a wholesome sound, very haunting."
He set out to make one for himself. "I made and tossed maybe 10 of them to get that sound. I was making them out of bamboo, and the bamboo dust contributed to my getting pneumonia. While I was sick I had this dream - to make these flutes in a more traditional way." That led to his using Western red cedar.
Moore is persnickety about the description of his flutes and how they are made.
"I say that these are made in the style of the Native American woodlands tradition," he said. "The word `style' is important because I am not a Native American and I don't pretend to be. "
He uses power tools, such as a router, to make his flutes, but insists they are made largely by hand, finished in shellac without adornment. He has distributors, but most of his sales are over the Internet, through his Web site at www.tsunamiflutes.com. Prices range from $68 to $254, depending on size and the type of wood used. He's even prepared to play one of them over the phone.
Moore is still recovering from a broken neck suffered three years ago at Myrtle Beach, S.C. "That's another story," he said. "I'm very, very lucky to be alive."
He donated one of his flutes for the auction fund-raiser last month for Paul Goetzke, the Annapolis attorney who was paralyzed last year in a diving accident.
This spring, he plans to take up the manufacturing of kayaks - noting, "I need the upper-body exercise."
In April, he will be a judge at Musical Echoes, a national gathering of Native American musicians at Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
"I'm really proud of that," he said. "As a self-taught white guy, I have to pat myself on the back."
A day before last week's snow, a flock of Canada geese over Eastport was seen headed in V formation in the right direction - toward Canada.
Clutch your seed catalogs to your bosom: Spring is coming.