Note: this was two years ago today. I’ve been out on my own deck, planting zinnia seeds and moving pots around, remembering the pleasure of watching my sons and their father work together, making jokes, adjourning for beer at the end of the day. And somehow during those days in Edmonton, inbetween walks with the children, making food with my daughters-in-law, driving out to the Ukrainian Village Museum, I proof-read the final galleys of Euclid’s Orchard with those same men and their lives on almost every page.
One plan for our time in Edmonton, if weather and time conspired congenially, was to help Brendan and Cristen replace a rotting porch at the back of their house in Strathcona and to build a new free-standing deck under the leafy maples in one corner of their back yard. It’s the place where outdoor tables go for summer meals and so plans have passed back and forth between John and Brendan for a few months. Best size? Lumber dimensions? John loves a project like this. It’s been a long time since two neophytes (poets!) built a house on the Sechelt peninsula and though many projects have arisen since then—adding rooms to accommodate a growing family; replacing the original decks —I have to say that my husband loves construction. I told him once that I thought humans had vestigial building knowledge in their hands and when the need arose to call on that knowledge, it would be there. (I know you’re rolling your eyes!)
Forrest, Manon, and Arthur planned to spend a week in Edmonton too. Five of our days overlapped with theirs. (I just took them to the airport.) All week John and his sons measured wood, hammered joists, screwed down long lengths of lumber for the decking. They joked that they were the Passable Builders (their surname being Pass). This morning, after breakfast, I asked them to sit on the porch (which may or may not see railings and perhaps a bench or two):
The old porch is waiting to have its nails removed:
And here’s the deck where we’ll eat our dinner tonight (the remaining two Passable builders are out buying the last two pieces of lumber to finish it as well as stair materials):
While details were being weighed and pondered (“Measure twice, cut once.”), I looked over to see how weeds thrive in sunlight: