A Good Kind of Tired
As I tucked our dirty clothes into the washer last night, I smiled at seeing the burnt cuffs of my husband's work jeans. I looked at my own pants and noted how they had turned from blue jeans to almost entirely brown, and what had started the weekend as a small hole in the left knee had turned into a gaping tear, to the point that those pants may need to be put out to pasture. When I pulled everything out of the dryer, the lint catcher held the usual lint along with wood chips and small pieces of slate and cement that had hidden as stowaways in our pockets and the creases of our clothes. All were mementos of our Memorial day turned labor day weekend in Michigan.
My dad recently had rotator cuff surgery and needed a few extra hands to get rid of the last tired remnants of a large shed, as well as do some general outdoor spring clean up. My family had agreed to mark Memorial day as the great assault weekend. The shed was coming down! A small crew of sisters lead by my dad and husband as captains, we started bright and early, making and eating breakfast by 8:30 a.m., pulling on our work gloves, donning our safety glasses, and heading outside. A large wall that used to stand in the middle of the shed had collapsed, with debris both under it and on top of it. We started an assembly line, separating what wood was still salvageable, and burning the rest. My husband built a fire nearby, and it soon became a raging inferno. Thankfully it was a cool day, but the heat kicking off of it felt like the sun. At one point I asked him if he was sweating so much it was soaking through his pants, as they appeared damp in places. No, he said, he had had to hose himself down to keep from catching on fire! A very real concern, as evidenced by the hole burnt in one pant leg, and the burnt cuff of the other.
The same fire made my dad's eyes grow wide at one point, and he paused mid board-inspection when he heard my husband say casually, "My sun is hungry," as he was walking away from me. We were standing with our arms around each other, taking a short break. As my husband went to put more wood on the fire my dad heard, "My son is hungry," thinking I needed snack time because I was pregnant! I saw the look on his face and immediately corrected, "No, no no, SUN, S-U-N, the giant fire he built. His sun is hungry, not son S-O-N." Dad's face returned to normal as we laughed and continued to work.
I am something of a picker when it comes to old things, so dad was frequently holding things up for my inspection, asking if I wanted to keep them. I was proud of myself for keeping only one old window frame and two large pieces of slate. We dug out a HUGE parlor door and chided dad for getting rid of it, but he relayed that someone else had taken it out of the house years before mom and dad bought it. We figured if we could drive it to California we would probably find a buyer who would give it a good home but realizing the impracticability of that venture and having no use for it ourselves we sadly laid her to rest in the hungry flames. It was probably one of the few moments we all paused, watching the flames dance over her sides, as a piece of history disappeared.
|What was left after we had burned the wood and ripped out the foundation|
After hours of work, everything that could be burned had been. Decades ago, an annex had been added to the shed, a sort of lean-to with a dirt floor but a cement foundation, 3 sided, probably 8 feet x 16 feet. My dad mentioned he would like to get it out if possible, and that was all we needed to hear. We dug into the earth around the foundation to get to the base of it. Using an old cinder block as a fulcrum, we wedged in a large pipe to lever the foundation out of the ground. My husband then grabbed a sledge hammer and went to town, delivering devastating blows and smashing the concrete apart to break it into pieces we could all manage to carry. Most of my siblings are 110 lbs soaking wet, but you'd be surprised at how large "manageable" was. At one point we heard a cry of surprise and looked to see my sister lying flat on the ground, with a large slab of cement covering most of her back. We were momentarily horrified but heard her say, "Don't worry; I'm fine! I fell so I wouldn't get hurt.” It was the most absurd but matter-of-fact thing to say, and she was indeed fine, once we got the cement off of her. With my dad needing to rest his arm, my husband lead the way, but each of my siblings brought their own strength to the task. My all-or-nothing attitude was horrid for prying, but perfect for smashing, so I took over sledge hammer duties. My sister joined the fulcrum team, her more meticulous manner perfect for the occasion. And again, in less than a couple of hours, the entire foundation was gone.
By the time the sun was finding her way to the western horizon, everyone was more than a little bruised (I currently have a bruise on my leg that looks a little like Jupiter's Great Red Spot), scraped, and sun burned, but we all had a rather large sense of pride at a job well done, with relatively few casualties. There was of course the burnt and dirtied pants, and a sledgehammer handle that had bent in half when my husband was using it to smash concrete. “Don’t worry," my dad said, "I found that on the side of the road.” That roadside treasure died rather valiantly at least.
We finished the day with a bonfire, (a new small fire, not the aforementioned S-U-N) roasting sausages and s'mores. Everyone tucked into bed by 10 p.m. too tired to move or talk, and the next day we all had a side of ibuprofen in addition to our breakfast. We finished Monday by hauling off scrap metal, stacking firewood, and taking care of a few more odds and ends, wrapping up after lunch just as rain started to fall.
While I am afraid it took nearly a week for me to recover (I am apparently not as young as I used to be), I am of the opinion that everyone needs a little demolition in their lives, and the occasional experience of sore muscles reminding you that they exist. I Love the stories we have from the weekend, and the wonderfulness of family who threw their weight behind accomplishing a common goal, and all the crazy adventures we shared.