The First SummerPosted on: January 27, 2010
The First Summer
by Deborah in the UP
Days turned into weeks as we fell into a working routine. So much needed to be done and it needed to be done now, or first, or next.
We ran wiring thru the walls for outlets and switches and lights. Yes, we would have power, limited, but power. We added plumbing and drains, even though we didn’t have any running water yet. The drywall went up, finally creating privacy, much to the cat’s dismay. They had enjoyed walking thru walls one end of the house to the other. Throughout the next few months, and into winter, Pete would ‘mud’ the drywall seams, and then I would spend hours or days sanding. It was awful. Messy, dirty, painful work, hard on the neck, arms and back; hard on the eyes and the lungs, even with masks. I would put water on the stove to heat for my shower about mid-way thru the day, clearly announcing this was MY water, so it wouldn‘t get used for something else. Once I had a room properly sanded down, I swept the walls, then damp mopped the walls, then added the primer paint. After that, of course, was painting. Then the trim work, then the flooring. Pete had little interest in the decorating of our home, so all of that was left to me. It made me feel useful to be aiming for a completed room.
Peter wired the basement to accept the charge of the solar panels we installed in the trees behind the house. Batteries, six 6-volt golf cart batteries, wired into a 12 volt system, then wired into an inverter, produced standard 110 electricity for lights. It felt… normal, to be able to walk into any room and turn on a wall switch for light!… and to think we were ten miles from the nearest power lines.
One particularly hot afternoon, we were working on the front porch, shielded from the sun by the over hanging roof. I was sealing the cupboards that I had stained the day before. I was anxious to have the kitchen functioning, so I kept up a tired but steady pace. As I applied sealer, it would dry before I could re-brush the drip out… very frustrating. I commented about my challenge, and Peter went inside, leaving me alone on the porch, presumably to solve the situation on my own, which I did in short order. I had no idea where he went or what he was doing. Little did I know, that he went inside to ‘build’ me a rack to fix the issue, only by the time he came back out, I was done, problem solved. This was part of a long line of conflicts we began to have. We were both problem solvers, only I liked solving my own. He sulked for the rest of that day.
It wasn’t all work. Once some of the critical projects were done, we would take a 2-3 hour walk in the morning after coffee, exploring our woods. We found old logging trails, deep ravines, small creeks… and we began to map our land. One eventful project was to mark our lot lines. We had a general idea, and could find some of the old ‘flagging’, but we wanted a clearer, more obvious trail. Starting at a known edge, we carefully followed a compass for staying on direction, and a range-finder for the distance. A triumphant surprise was to find the survey corner markers! Over the course of a week, we had walked and re-marked our entire perimeter, locating all the corners. Quite the accomplishment for a couple of city kids.
The property took on a new meaning to me. It was beautiful. It had such spirit, such good energy. I felt alive and free and clear when I was in the woods. Gradually, my confidence built where I would go walking alone, exploring certain areas, getting to know my home. It occurred to me at some point, that I was never afraid when I was in the woods, the spirits of the land wouldn’t let anything happen to me. I found my own spaces to go, where I could sit a meditate on my life, something I hadn’t been able to do before.
That same hot summer, before we finally got running water in the house, we would go down to our creek to cool off. This was really more than a creek, it was a small river. Some twenty feet wide, it was never more than three feet deep, and that was in the pools where we would skinny dip on hot days.
It was the next summer, we noticed one end of the creek getting deeper and deeper. Exploring downstream, we found the cause, a beaver dam. Very methodically, we began to dismantle the structure, as it was endangering our bridge, which was our only access to the house. Every day, we would go down and remove more, and each night, the beaver would build it back. I started going alone, as Peter was getting frustrated, and the regular, more frequent attention finally won over. The beaver left. Yet one more victory for us!