"Coloring the Conservation Conversation--One Word at a Time!"

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Yesterday I finally got around to finishing the demolition the wind started a few weeks back. A late summer storm--unfortunately with little rain,  ripped off a large portion of the screen porch roof and amputated a few limbs off the backyard black cherries.  Of course once a piece of the roof was gone the rains came!  After pondering the repair of said roof I finally got after it yesterday--hammer in hand and destruction in mind! Once the roof was off and the porch topless, the world opened up again.  The vermilion fruits of the twisted, old eastern dogwood that I built the porch around were a perfect contrast against the blue, early autumn sky that was drifting by. High in that cerulean and way beyond the red berries and skittering around in the sea of clouds and clarion were little, black jets-- chimney swifts! The little flying cigars arrive from their South American wintering grounds sometime in April, twittering and flittering in the spring and summer sky as they raise the next generation of Chaetura pelagica in the confines of the neighborhood chimneys.  Silent yesterday, they seemed more intent on being somewhere else than maybe our neighborhood. Their flight was less erratic as I imagined their instinct turning to thoughts of trans-gulf migration, dodging predators and finding enough chimneys and smoke stacks along the way in which to roost and rest.  Soon the sky will be absent the their little black, feathered fusiforms and I'll count the days until they return from the far away places they dare to go. I took a few moments in between the banging, ripping, pulling and tearing to float enviously with them on the wind to wherever.
The Chimney swifts are somewhere up there! Trust me --and the ceramic goldfinch!

I realized just this morning as I was contemplating more serious things that I'd been storing in my head like fatalistic acorns over the past few weeks and days -stuff like new life and early death and the bittersweet randomness of it all  that perhaps the porch deconstruction might be more than what it appears.  I went straight at it yesterday--in my casual office wear (just jeans and a polo shirt but dressy for me) without a plan really to do so.  Unwisely barefoot and with no eye protection initially, I picked up the hammer and just starting wailing away.  Nails, bits of fiberglass roof panel, leaves and pine needles flew furiously around in the maelstrom I created.  Sure, the job needed to get done but why yesterday and why so suddenly? After the tear-down I felt strangely clean, although I was covered in sweat and everything that had once been on top of the roof.

A Dear Friend--a guide in my life--- suggested that the tearing apart was maybe therapeutic--a necessary thing.  That in that sudden fit of destruction that perhaps I was satisfying a need to throw some things away--repair the broken--start again--make life better.  And in that discussion and my own thoughts it made sense.  Once topless--once shed of the old, dysfunctional roof the rains could come in and cleanse.  Once the opaque panels were gone, things opened up to the wider possibilities of  cerulean sky, nourishing Fall fruit and birds that know no bounds.  Once the roof was gone, I could begin to reconstruct what was torn apart. Build it back better than before. The tearing apart was the easy thing my guide said.  But the building, that's what will be more difficult. "Keep at it and don't give up."  The words were like spring water in a tin cup. I liked the allegory offered and drank it thirstily, refreshed and convinced that although my life is a good one, it will only get better if I have the courage to see the thing through. Have the strength to tear down but the true courage to build up.  Today, I will begin the rebuild, taking it slowly to ensure that things are put back together the right way.  It is only appropriate in this autumnal season of  transition, my favorite time of year, that such things become evident. Who knew that a hammer, a leaky roof, an old dogwood and a few chimney swifts could mean so much?  I do--now that I'm topless.

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