Saturday, December 24, 2016

There Before Me, a Writer's Shed


I step inside and smell fresh cut wood, the raw aroma of sawdust. It reminds me of my father, who loved the scent. He was a craftsman who made cabinets, built fences, and patio decks. My mother also loved the smell. When my father died, my mother said how much she missed the distinctive fragrance of newly sanded and shaved woodworks. 

This is what I think as I walk into the shed, my writer's shed. 



After months of research, studying designs, longing for a space like Thoreau's or Dylan Thomas', the wooden shed is delivered. It has been painted. The roof and flooring have been redesigned to meet building permit standards for the village. The shed is placed at an angle in the yard to allow for a perfect view from the shed's door to the main house, still permitting a level of privacy. The northeast-facing window looks out to large old trees and the wooden property fence, a good spot. Still, getting it to its new home was not easy.


The 8X10 unit is squeezed between the house's south wall and the towering trees. "Squeezed" may not be the best word to describe how a fifty-foot trailer has to be twisted and turned to avoid a ditch near the street, and how gradually and methodically it must be backed in to the property to escape six-inch thick tree limbs and power lines. The crew has an inch of room to maneuver away from the trunk of a tree and a ridiculously heavy and immovable garden barrel.


At one point, the shed's roof scrapes a large limb and the trailer's driver must back up and out, over and over again to wiggle through the opening. Eventually the trailer's hydraulic lift lowers the shed to let it slip to the gravel base. It appears it's about to topple on its side and I am reluctant to say anything to the two-man crew. They are experts after all.

"Bet you've never had a delivery this tough before," I say.

"This is nothing," one of the men says, shaking his head. "Try dealing with one of the 12X16 sheds. Nightmare."

I take his word for it.


Once the shed is on the gravel, they use what is called a j-bar to lift and shift it square to the wood framing on the ground. It is oddly delicate work, twisting and pulling the shed in minor adjustments to fit it into its base.

When the trailer carrying the shed pulled up to the house, I seriously doubted my plans, worrying it was never going to get to the rear of the property. But it did and and what remains the work of tender loving care. Interior painting, flooring, and barn wood siding will finish it off. My Leslie will paint the front door the color of green apple like the entrance door of the house. My desk and books will be arranged, and a chair my son Graham made for me will be placed in the corner. My son Casey's photography will hang on the wall and a wonderful drawing from Jen O'Hare will be right beside it.

For now, I watch from the kitchen window and smile at the holiday wreath Leslie has lovingly hung on the shed's door, a wreath my mother first created years ago, and every now and then I will stand inside, take in the perfume of sawed lumber, and think of what's to come.


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