New Things and Old Things, and the Weather

In March, fair weather deluded us into thinking it was time to work the vegetable patch, and we did it with enthusiasm. And then came the rains, back in buckets. The bean seeds rotted in the soil. Poor little zucchini plants tried nobly to get things started…

… and then retired again into the mud.

Through weeks of rains coming in, storm after storm,  long past their scheduled allotment, some things struggle forward in seasonal progress. The cottonwoods put on their cottonfall. The garden weeds have leaped forth. The crows arrived in noisy chorus, and the the goldfinches and towhees. The slugs ate the iris blooms before they could contemplate opening to the sun. The sun? Not making much of an appearance this spring.

But here is a sign of the time. The newest crop of the year, trotting beside the road, was swift to get back to it’s mother’s side when I stopped with the camera. It’s so hard to get photos of these little gems. It was like a fairy deer, as petite as they come. Mother was watching from above.

The House is advancing. So many diverse things need completion, it seems the list goes on forever. It’s been such a long project.  Now, when I look at this wholly modern structure, I see something of its place in time and technology.

A house must meet our most primitive need: comfort. We find that in regulated temperature, light, and sound.  Except that we have made choices among modern and, when we could, local materials, our house is only that. It’s a box holding warmth and coolness as we wish it, providing light when we call for it, and containing noise. Nothing special. It has systems that allow it to perform these tasks in efficient ways, which is what we strive for here, but when it comes down to it, creating a dwelling of most  effective, most available materials is not new. In the Mesa Verde area of Colorado, the Hisatsinom people built their homes into the sheltering cliffs, giving themselves advantageous views, protection from the heat of day, and access to horticultural sites that were not, therefore, taken up by dwellings. In their time, the use of the cliffs was a modern advance in housing.

In any case, as our  sun-loving house nears completion, we begin to realize how you cannot build such a house without becoming philosophical about past and future. Goodness knows, our future needs some attention to our past. And though this is very much a 21st Century house, we’ve grabbed a few good things from other centuries.

Look here for instance:

What a nice pile of boards. These will be interior window facings, and they are a piece of good fortune. This lumber is very old wood, held for years in deep, deep storage. There was a time, not so long ago, when loggers pulled gigantic trees from the forests, skidded them down Corduroy roads to the river, and tied them into booms to be floated downstream. Weather and circumstance sometimes delivered these logs to the bottom of the river. where they lay, preserved in their bark coats, awaiting the day when someone found them of sufficient value to invest in their recovery.

Our tree fell in the forest about 250 years ago.

It’s grain is vertical, fine and true. It smells like old fir, resinous and faintly dusty. We think of it as treasure, brought back from that era when we were so wickedly disrespectful of our forest resources.

In other projects, we spent a weekend staining cork tiles for the kitchen floor.

Cork production is renewable and sustainable from the beginning. Cork for flooring is a secondary product, made from the left-overs of wine cork production. Believe it or not, wine corks are more valuable than kitchen floors. Cork oaks live long, and cork floors do likewise. Installed now, but covered up,

Honest, there is a lovely kitchen here...

ours looks great, and should make a floor that is easy to stand on, warm underfoot, and easy to maintain.

In latest developments, iron workers have spent the last two weeks crawling over the greenhouse face, welding up the matrix for the glass panes.

If ever there were a spring in which we could have used the greenhouse (and in which we remember we had thought to be using it last spring), this is it. With a new series of barometer collapses headed in this week, we really do not see any relief from the Spring it Rained.

Salad, at least has been a success in the garden this year. Lettuce doesn’t seem to mind the rain, and if you plant enough of it, you can stay ahead of the slugs making their own harvest. And from back in the woods, Miner’s Lettuce perked up the bowl:

Claytonia perfoliata

It gives a person respect for the weather, this dank spring.

If you’ll excuse me now, I’ll go put my fleecy boots on again, and feed the fire.

Published in: on June 20, 2010 at 4:24 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The house looks fab!

    • Thank you. Day by day, day by day… sometimes I wonder if we’re just constructing a sort of performance art thing, that will go on and on forever…


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