Lessons of the soil. Our clay.
The raised beds and asparagus patch.
Start with composting. Collecting all the bagged leaves each autumn, to compost. Two hundred, at times, stacked somewhere in the yard.
The heat, followed by red wigglers.
It’s a particular place, after all, in a specific region. I had never thought I’d view sprouting maples as weeds. I quickly recognize other invaders, especially the ground ivy. Soon, uprooting them becomes reflexive.
Six years into this, I realized our soil was improving. I’d pull up the weed maple sprouts, roots and all, easily. No need to find the pliers.
* * *
The outdoor room I called The Smoking Garden.
It’s panels of ferns. Lilacs.
The necessity of a brush pile.
* * *
The house across the street, once so right, now showing serious signs of neglect.
Our array of drip-line neighbors.
Also behind us, the dogs. And a kitchen renovation followed by another before we could do ours.
Old Ernie passing, opening way for the young Yuppie couple who quickly had four sons.
That is, within neighborhood.
Waiting for the brood to return from their mission in Bolivia.
* * *
Look ahead. Work far from done. Our five-year plans. Our twenty.
Downstairs bathroom. Stairway. Rerouted driveway.
Replacing the shed.
Side screened-in porch, with the hot tub.
Will it ever be done? Will one or both of the kids return, with children? Will we be, in the New England tradition, a multi-generation household? Or will my wife and I outgrow this, and abandon our asparagus patch?
All the money, rebuilding this house, how many times over?
* * *
Stacking two cords of firewood in little more than a day (with two more on the way) – oak, maple, birch, this round. Its aroma after rain when I return past midnight.
Select squared-off pieces for erecting corners. What would you or I have to barter?
All the hard work of the old days already done: felled, transported out, cut, split, and delivered. Here, since the woodpile will be more a square than a row, demands extra care – sloping inward, expecting settling. The finished stack like a sculpture (do not touch). In the wood, touches of pink, yellow, burgundy in the end-grain (will weather to gray). Working a puzzle, the multiple ways each piece might fit, made solid, knowing movement will yet appear. The satisfaction, expecting the family to find comfort by winter fire. Gloves, my hands soft from the office, prone to splinters. My desire for everything in place, ready, functioning.
My practice, going to the far side of the dumped wood first.
What critters will be taking refuge here?
The energy factor (don’t ask).
But here we are, together again, with friends on the way. A home, after all.