Monday, July 30, 2012

Ode to a shed

I had to tear my shed down this weekend and it brought a tear to my eye. In the interest of full disclosure, I cried at The Hunger Games, each American Girl movie I got suckered into watching, and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Every year since 1966, excepting a few when I was a teenager and too cool. I do not, however, normally maintain inordinately fond attachments to inanimate objects. I don’t name my cars. I didn’t think twice about moving from my last home.

 But this house, and this shed, have been different. We settled it in the Fall, a few months later my father died at 64, in a swirl of unfulfilled potential and a few months after that I built a shed, specifically to fulfill a potential.

 Some people have dream homes. I had the dream of owning a home that required the purchase of a small tractor. I am now, and have been for several years, living the dream. Various projects around the house generated excess lumber and the tractor deserved a home of its own, so I decided to construct one. Believing that plans – like those story synopses in operatic playbills – preclude excitement, I set out my wood, purchased some more and started building a shed.

I soon realized that the best way maximize use of my materials and minimize cuts would be to make a cube. 10 x 10 x 10. This would result in an object of beauty, a pantheon to originality. With a flat roof. I live on an island north a Buffalo, NY. If you are not familiar with the climate of the northeastern Americas, let my just say, most people prefer a roof that encourages snow and rain to slide to the side. I liked the cube, so rather than form a peak, I decided to cant the whole building.

I loved this design. Bold. Unique. I didn’t even mar it with a door. I fashioned a secret panel, with a catch hidden in the bottom. The shed stood like a brown monolith, as if Kubrick had decided to do a woodsy version of 2001 A Space Odyssey. Yes, the roof sagged and I had to install center supports, which barely left room for the tractor. And yes, it leaked like disgruntled middle managers, passed over yet again. Still, a big nut-color cube? Look at it. Moisture, mold, mice, followed by squirrels and squishy floorboards. After eight years of patching, caulking and burning time I didn’t have, came the saw and the sledge. There was nothing else to do. My lesson in classic tragedy. Fixing the flaws would have destroyed the reasons I cherished the shed in the first place.

It’s also my lesson in perseverance. Next time, I’m going to do it right. I’m thinking pyramid.

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