Make no mistake: while we drive matching Volvo wagons, N and I disagree on many aspects of life. He could cuddle into perpetuity and I need some space. He will work till he’s bone tired, and I’ll take a break so as not to be. Growing up, the Ferrells got-er-done and the Kitchens hired others to do the same. Neither way surmounts the other; the Ferrells saved more money and acquired useful skills; the Kitchens saved more time and acquired useful contractors.
This year I am determined to have raised beds. I set a date. I enlisted my handyman. I checked the weather. I scoured Skagit Building Salvage, where a hearty supply of used lumber begged for a new life. Through a work contact, N found some–what shall I call these pieces, nay, chunks of tree?–mother effing huge slabs of trees. The Forest Service had felled and processed the heart of the trees for table tops and benches; the remaining sides were up for grabs. N told me about the quarter-ish rounds, bark on one side, flush-cut on the other. They sounded cool enough.
Despite those potential tree sides, N, amazing husband that he is, went on Friday to the salvage place and purchased used wood while I sipped beer with a friend. Then, at the very last minute, in the eleventh hour, N decided that we should go by ourselves to check out the tree sides.
Did I mention we own Volvo wagons?
I should have guessed there would have been a forklift. The boy is lured by all things embedded with a motor, and, after attempting to lift one edge of a saturated trunk, N fired up the machinery. (Or tried to. The battery proved dead until we charged it. Who even knew forklifts had batteries?)
The three of us hoisted and maneuvered and cantilevered about the work yard, trying to coax the former sky-brushing giants into the back of a wagon. I admit, there was eye-rolling and short, declarative, demanding directions and sour faces. “Look,” I said, “we don’t have a truck, the pieces are too long and too heavy, and this is just wasting time.” I wanted to build the damn beds already. I’d waited out (patiently, I might add) vacations and illness. It was now or never.
But N is a Ferrell, not to be thwarted by mere weight of an object, quandary of a situation or whine of a wife.
Not even when forklifts get stuck in mud.
And what could I do but laugh and know that I could either succumb to the Ferrell way or pout off to the side while he wrenched his back, the machinery and possibly our marriage. Cause that was the thing, right? Our marriage? I agreed to this–this cold, heavy-as-shit, lugging lumber in the rain, seeing it through with him, executing a vision together–and I couldn’t turn back.
So I drove in reverse as I towed the forklift out of the mud.
Have I mentioned we drive Volvo wagons? Yes, you imagined correctly: one silver Volvo trudging a 6,000 lbs. forklift out of the quagmire. It was symbolic, I think.
We worked out a system. Found smaller pieces. Scooted in just right. Stacked pieces of trees on top of each other. Used a bit of tree for a hammer even though N had brought his own. I think he likes to make things difficult. Loves the challenge. The satisfaction. That’s probably why he loves me: I’m a damn hard challenge.
The tree sides–what do I call these things?–were so heavy-duty that we had to purchase 7-inch screws.
By day’s end, we had constructed one raised bed. She is a thing of beauty, I tell you. Deep and natural and forest-like. And every time I tend to that bed (and the other two, if we can get our asses in gear) I will think of my boy. Of his determination and drive to have it just right. Of not letting a dead battery or the stuck wheels of a forklift get him down. Of lifting much too heavy loads despite his bad back. Of working all day on his one day off to get me just what I wanted–no, better than I imagined.