Construction Day 1

Photo shows a large pile of flat gray stones called Goshen stone
A patio in the raw form.

There’s a phrase, live lightly on the land, that would be nice to adhere to, but sometimes to get there you have to make a mess first. When my wife and I moved to our little slot of paradise a few years ago, we knew we wanted a nature preserve vibe. We’ve worked to remove nonnative plants and put in natives, with a goal of restoring an understory where tall, skinny pines grow and were thinned by the previous owner to let in more light. The property has gone from deeply forested, near as I can tell, to open fieldish with pollinator-friendly gardens near the house.

We knew we wanted a porch, and the place didn’t come with one, so it had to be built. Talk about making a mess. The black-billed cuckoos who nested in a nearby mountain laurel probably regretted the decision. They haven’t been back. The digging, the sawing, the hammering. The soil was left compacted (we put the garden in after that construction). But we love the porch. We live out there. The land will heal.

The next, and last, big outdoor project is replacing a decaying timbered terrace at the front of the house. It’s falling apart and being eaten by termites, so has to go regardless of what we do next. This being western Massachusetts, patios of Goshen stone are the thing, so that’s what we’re putting in. With new steps to the front door and lots of tick-proof hardscape, it’ll give us good access to our front garden, a place to sit when it’s not buggy, like midwinter. The old terrace had overgrown shrubs and was barely accessible.

The saving grace of construction projects constantly being delayed is giving the birds time to get their nesting out of the way. The company told us they might start early summer. Ugh. A pair of phoebes nest right over the worksite. But as we didn’t hear from the company, we relaxed as first one brood then the next fledged safely. The biggest surprise were the catbirds who decided to set up house in the shrub that was going to be pulled in the project. Please, don’t let them start till the birds are done!

All’s well. Phoebes are happily diving and swooping over the field and among the pines. The catbirds have disappeared. Now I just want the work finished before snowfall!

So far, they’ve dug out all the old timbers, brick, and stones that are going and dumped or saved and a huge pile of gravel deposited on the driveway. Right next to the tonnage of Goshen stone that will become steps and walkway.

When you decide to do a big project, you look at past work done by the company. Isn’t it always beautiful? You forget or don’t realize what a mess had to be made to get there. (Sort of like writing. That truly shitty first draft eventually leads to something beautiful, but what a process!)

It’ll be interesting to follow their progress. I’m curious but want to stay out of their way. Stay tuned for updates.

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