Tuesday, November 10, 2015

windows without walls, benches without a floor

We have this pile of old windows in the barn, placed there after home improvement projects made these old storm windows no longer necessary on the main house. But they are old and wooden and the panes are old wavy glass, with bubbles and all kinds of gorgeous imperfections. I love to look through old glass windows, at the distortions they make of the landscape beyond.

This pile of windows persists due solely to my desire to save them; I have also finally won Jonathan over despite his desire to reclaim the space they occupy in the barn. So now we have plans for each window, projects that will place them in locations where we want to open up a view, let light in, frame a view of our property.

One such project is the ever present, rarely progressing, treehouse project. But motivated by the pile of unmovable beasts covered in flaking paint and occasionally creating shattered glass in the barn, and by an unseasonably warm fall here in Maine, Jonathan is back at the treehouse project.

And it is coming along.

With Jonathan at the helm on this one, I am the official child labor organizer, as well as she who carries things from here to there. She who, when a two by four is needed, heads off to the river bank staircase and digs with a stick under the kayak landing until she finds that piece of two by four scrap that she spied months ago. And she who fetches the seventh pencil when the sixth goes missing in the fallen leaves. But really, we all have been helping. And we all have our skill sets. For example, Nicholas, with 14 year old muscles and a crow bar, completely demolished and then removed all traces of the rotting old "treehouse," a small plywood platform that was so dangerous and precarious and rotten that it needed to be removed before visitors took a serious tumble. And then he climbed several trees to unnerving heights. And promptly retreated to the house to play his electric guitar. Ah, 14 year olds.

And given that Jonathan is primarily using materials already on our property, left over from home improvement projects and scavenged from piles of scrap wood left all over the place, the basement, the attic, the barn. With an occasional trip to our local mill to purchase rough hewn lumber harvested and milled within a few miles of our home. And given the offers of help by children of differing skills and patience, and given a wife who keeps asking if it is completely safe up there. Sometimes things happen in a strange order. Sometimes, windows that I have carried down one by one from the barn and that need to be placed someplace safe so the wind does not blow them over and shatter the precious glass on the river bank, need to be installed before walls to prevent said disaster.

And this seems just about right to me. That we have placed the view holders before the walls. The parts of the construction that I have been dreaming about before all those much less interesting things like walls and a roof and a floor that is attached to the beams.

It is just how it goes when you are working with children (and a safety conscious wife). When your plans may be to frame out the walls and get the windows in before dark, the children are trying to figure out how to help, what they can do when power tools are buzzing and ladders are tipping, and floor boards still more like seesaws when you step on one end. It's really no surprise that during those moments, someone might take a look at the scrap wood pile and decide to make something of their own. To grab a handful of nails and a hammer and get to work.

And then, at least in our family, come to the point when the plans are there, the desired outcome known, but just how to make it all happen and pull out that errant nail is unclear. And very frustrating.

And so, last night, in the then almost complete dark, I retreated to the kitchen to make dinner while shouting to be heard two rooms away in the living room, about guitar power cords and fingering for piano practicing. And Jonathan and Elliott stayed down on the river bank. I could hear the power drill and saw whirling from time to time. And somehow in the morass of homework and practicing and stirring the soup and making lunches and finding a missing boot, those two slipped back into the house and we never talked about what happened with that scrap wood project.

Until the next morning, when I went down to open the coop for the day, and spied through the trees, this.

A bench. A situpon, as it is called in my family. Carefully placed in front of my window, the one with the perfect view. The window placed because it was what inspired this whole project. Well, that window and the view it frames. And now, we have the next most important part. A place to sit upon and enjoy it.

Walls, schmalls.

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