Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tearing down Walls

As a rule, I like change. I enjoy moving and all that it entails. I like making new friends, having unfamiliar vistas, and feeling anything but complacent. A few years ago, we bought a post and beam farmhouse. Generally speaking, post and beam construction means that no interior walls are load bearing and any and all conventional interior walls can come down without incident. This is good, because while I welcome and encourage change, I am less captivated by detail. I delight in the garden destruction that is necessary in fall, but am far less enthusiastic about the design and replanting demanded by spring. I am, as I have admitted in the past, a bit of a ‘bull in a china shop’, not out of clumsiness but as a result of enjoying the process of making a mess. I do, however, clean up my messes…eventually. As an aside, when change is mixed with spontaneity, I am flat out enraptured.

Some years ago my daughter asked for, and received, a sledgehammer for Christmas. My husband and I both found the request endearing and the idea of owning a family sledgehammer selfishly inspiring. While she was instructed never to use it on her sister, we have many times since put it through a wall to instigate a remodeling project. Recently the sledgehammer found itself embedded in a wall to the north of our mudroom. In our neck of the woods, a mudroom is a necessity. Your only option to not having a mudroom in this climate is to have a mud house. Mudrooms have tile floors, shoe racks or trunks, and hooks aplenty! They are virtually indestructible and their existence keeps the rest of the house orderly and free of sludge. Our idea was to connect the mudroom to both the kitchen and the living room to capture infidels who entered the house through the living room door as opposed to coming in through the mudroom. Dirty shoes, snowy clothes, wet beach towels and assorted backpacks frequently litter the living room floor because, after all, the mudroom is seemingly too far away. Not anymore. Now whichever door you enter through the mudroom, with all of its convenient storage and coat hanging options, beckons. No excuses.

Admittedly, North Country farm living is not for the faint of heart, weak of spirit, or neat freaks. There are animals, muddy shoes, snow that blows inside and dirty jobs to keep one busy from sun up to sun down. That being said, everything needs a home, even shoes and coats, and I appreciate a clean and uncluttered floor. I have many nights told my children that I cannot kiss them goodnight in their beds unless I have a clear unobstructed path from their doors to their beds. I have stepped on too many Jax in my life, and while a good night kiss is imperative, it should not be cause for a puncture wound.

There is a time and place for order and for chaos. Order keeps the chaos manageable and balances impulsivity making it safe to be so. I am running out of walls to bash my sledgehammer through, yet I am marveling at the consequential look of my surroundings. Ironically, it is novel and fresh; and yet, it is unmistakably home. Tucked amongst the oversized tapestry pillows of my living room couch and looking straight through to the kitchen, I am grateful for open and airy spaces and wonder how long it will take the impulsive carpenters who made it so to put up baseboards and trim. Details…

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