LONGLEAF STORIES

full circle in the hundred acre wood

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 . . . and the new bones connected to the old bones. Them bones them bones gonna walk around, them bones them bones gonna walk around. Them bones them bones gonna walk around; now hear the word of the Lord. It was 2:45 this afternoon when I left the house in all its noisy, bodacious creativity. Buck stayed to meet with a cabinet man from Flomaton, Alabama driving over to bid on the project, while I drove downtown for the weekly caring ministry class at Christ Episcopal Church. I drove from rapidly developing country property into town land in decline. The most striking scenery was a vacant pasture recently turned into grazing land for actual cattle – Black Angus by the look of them, many little calves enlivening the view. Their eventual fate may not be so bucolic, but on this afternoon, I wanted to pull over, slip under the fence and set a spell in their presence. Later, driving the 35 minutes home from town, happy that I had made a vat of spaghetti sauce earlier in the day, and that a loving man and a glass of mellow red awaited my arrival, I almost ran off the road gawking at the sunset. I at first thought, “Damn, I wish I had my camera,” and then, “Damn, a real writer would know how to describe the high, scattered clouds decorating the lush coral sunset melting like a copper ingot in the impossibly blue sky.” Me, I need my camera. Our framer, John, told me he would have a set of stairs built to the second floor before he left today.  Driving home from town, pushing slightly over the speed limit, I hoped to get there before the sunset made its final curtain for the day. My mouth was dry, and I thought about what it must look like, up those plywood stairs to the raised platform, unguarded by any borders. I hoped Buck was already up there, taking in the scene. But when I opened the gate and bumped all the way to the house, driving too fast for a smooth ride on that dirt road, I saw a strange pick-up truck, and knew the cabinet man was still there. Maggie met me at the car. I stuck my head in the door to say hello. Buck knew I was hot to run up the new steps. His eyes held mine as he said, “Be careful. There isn’t a rail.”

I feel like Jonah in the belly of the whale. There is an organic process at work here, a digestion. The dead opposite of boredom.  

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Is there anything more exciting than a newly built stairway to the stars?

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Every great house has a surprise or two. One of them here is Buck’s design for a bridge spanning the distance between two undeclared spaces on the second floor.

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Going down? The elevator is mainly a concession to the optimistic hope that we will get old enough to need it. That, plus it seems like a ridiculously fun gadget in the meantime to carry us and a supper cart up to the second floor terrace for sunset, moon and star gazing.

There are quite a few more “lost posts” to restore to complete the saga of Buck and my once-in-a-lifetime building project. I feel driven to complete the narrative of this time in our lives before I’m truly free to move forward. I’m eager to finish. This post was originally written and photographed on March 10, 2005.

 

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