On Thursday afternoon, two men arrived in one of those pick-up trucks that makes Philip nearly salivate – four doors, long bed, impeccable paint. While this machine was gorgeous – even by my standards – it was also practical – a necessity for people who make their living and spend their days in the construction of useful things.
These were our barn builders, and I was eager to see them.
They didn’t stay long that first day – the ground was still too wet, a fact they tested with loose knees and heavy boots – but they sent huge trucks full of materials over, materials that two more men maneuvered like puzzle pieces onto a forklift and then across our hay field.
Friday, the builders returned – a third man with them – to begin the work of laying out our barn. By the time Friday afternoon rolled around, we had a labyrinth of holes several feet deep in our soil, big rock gravel spread around our new driveway that circles the magnolia, and a gridded promise to begin putting up holes on Monday.
As I sat at the dining room table that serves as my desk for now since Mosey cannot navigate stairs, I watched them work. Complexities of geometry spun through their hands with the yellow span of their measuring tapes. Corners were placed then moved then placed again as minute calculations happened in their calloused hands and agile minds – 90 degrees is a physical fact not just a temperature to them.
Then, an eighteen-year-old man came from dripping our gravel like honey from the bucket of a skid steer to dig holes, and he finessed that machine to just the right spot. He drilled and then lifted, pulled back and shook off the dirt like a sheepdog coming out of water. Meanwhile two men worked with shovels perched near the augur, tossing clay away. A third used a long shovel that reminded me of a gondolier’s stick to lift the remaining crumbles of soil away. A ballet of power equipment and force.
They hefted bags of concrete and sliced them open with the tips of their shovels as neatly as anything I could with a very sharp knife. Then, they poured in the magic dust, gathered the evidence that it was anything human-made, and gave me a wave as they left.
When they left, I felt breathless, winded. I had just witnessed the creation of dreams, and I was blown exhausted by it.
But while I was thrilled with the start of our barn, I left that day most impressed by the artistry of these men whose hands will craft a building out of nothing. Their might puts life to their art. . . and in that, I knew completely what they were doing.