Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Shack

This is my office.

It's not the office I work in the most, but I am working in it right now. Okay, not right now, but I am writing, and this is, without a doubt, my favorite place to move ideas from brain waves to

The wood stove is creaking, its first fire of the year burning out the cobwebs and the little bit of creosote that has accumulated in the stovepipe. I threw some chunks of hickory into it, a mistake because hickory burns so hot that I usually only use it in the winter. It's only in the 40s outside and the door is open so I don't roast.

I did fall cleaning today, washing the windows (three times on the outside, twice on the inside) until they are almost invisible. The screens have been vacuumed and safely stowed behind the dry sink, and there's more light in here than there has been in months. The sun is lower and clears the eaves. The pine carsiding glows like burnished gold.

I sucked up a few hundred fly husks, sucked dry by the house spiders who often live in the windows during the summer. I let 'em stay, they eat the stray mosquitoes that blunder in and then go to the light. I guess going to the light is a bad idea for skeeters too.

My little oak table is now clean and ready for the laptop, a connection provided by Verizon's wireless. Amazing that I can sit here in the gas light, heated by wood, the ticking of my alarm clock, and the only modern noise is the fan on my laptop.

I just adjusted the damper on the stovepipe to allow a single puff of smoke into the room. The pine was never varnished, so when it gets some heat from the stove it starts to smell a little like a sawmill in here, and the only thing to do is to add a puff of hickory smoke. The Shack is a censor, releasing perfume to the faithful Shack Dwellers. In this case, me.

This is my first time using The Shack since last winter. The summer occupants are usually road reps who need a place to crash as they pass through. A lot of friends have been out here these past six or seven months, but not me. Now, as the seasons change, it becomes mine again.

Outside you'd find half a dozen large elm logs, felled by the power company because a) they were dead and b) they were leaning the wrong way, i.e., toward the power lines. Through an act of intervention, the arborists were more than happy to leave everything exactly where it fell. This means firing up the chainsaw, a lovely beast given to me by my brother-in-law when he no longer needed it. It also means I can cut it to 15" lengths, perfect for my little stove.

The alarm clock is ticking 120 bpm. One loud click, one soft click, as the escape mechanism ticks, then tocks. I like the sound, it reminds me of laying on a pew in church, my grandfather's arm around me, my head laying on his arm, my ear against his watch, trying to hear the soft tick. Then quartz watches came out and ruined it for everyone.

I don't even own a watch, I own a wrist computer. Barometer. Compass. Altimeter. Stopwatch. It doesn't tick. It doesn't tock. It makes no sound at all, unless I tell it to beep sometimes. On the hour, when the barometric pressure drops too fast, etc.

The temperature at the ridgepole is 103 degrees. This is good, as one of the cedar shingles was damaged by a limb a few years ago, and a small leak has developed. Once I get the area dried out (probably tonight), I can climb up and re-shingle that area. Working with cedar beats working with asphalt shingles any day ending in y.

I have to turn the gas light up another notch. It's getting darker.

Better get back to my real work.

Respectfully submitted,



David said...

I'd like a shack. Kind of like my own Fortress of Solitude.

I'd also like to read Michael Pollan's book "A Place of My Own" - talks about the same desire and process of creating that place.

Green Laker said...

Beautiful ode to a beautiful shack. Would love to have one in my back yard. First step - buy place with back yard...

Silbs said...

Thanks for the shelter when I've been in Madison to teach two day courses. It is a gem.

Andrew said...

great piece ... and great peace.

Dawn said...

You should read "The Shack" book review. See what you think. :-)

Rosie said...

Kind of a goal of mine to get to stay in it sometime. Beautiful pic too!

Binner said...

Thanks CL! That was wonderful to read! It did remind me of MP's book, 'a place of my own'. And, like Rosie, I hope to spend a night there sometime! Enjoy your Shack!!

bigpund said...

Looks great. Would love to see some pictures of the inside!