It’s week two of the Carpenter’s temporary layoff and the man I described last week as a caffeinated squirrel has geared down to a conscientious castor canadensis (fancy term for beaver).

If you’ve ever watched these rational rodents build a dam, you can appreciate their work ethic. Castors are resourceful creatures. Everything they do is purposeful. They are part engineer, part construction worker, and always self-sufficient. They have a stubborn streak and a quiet determination with a “get’er done” attitude, even if their dams are damn frustrating to those around them. You see where this is going right?

The Carpenter is a little less hyper now that the reality of his house-bound status has set in. The yard is now free of fallen tree limbs and twigs, secured in the dry shelter of his spiffy, shingled wood pile. Still, he doesn’t idle well. As fast as that project was done, he set to work on another; one he knew I could not find any fault with personally or financially: garden boxes. How could anyone argue the benefit of garden boxes that don’t cost us any money but will be used to grow us food in the near future (especially in the midst of a pandemic)? You can’t. Not even if you are not a gardener (Me).

Built entirely from recycled wood and leftover materials, he went at this project with great enthusiasm like a busy middle-aged beaver. He went through every piece of scrap wood he had ever scavenged from his construction sites, most of the wood being too rough to ever be used for anything attractive – until now.

The results were beautiful. The rustic garden boxes were laid out on a ladder of shelving, affixed to two by fours of a nicer quality of finished wood, making for a nice contrast in appearance. I was so impressed. One set was mounted to the exterior wall of our home. The Carpenter explained the boxes were the ideal size to hold a herb garden, tomatoes and some smaller plants. The larger garden boxes were raised off the ground to house strawberry plants. Very nice.

I got to pick the stain colour. That’s as much input as I’ve had on a single outdoor home improvement project – ever. I chose a colour to match the beautiful fire pit seating area he built us last year. I love that space too. I could visualize our beautiful backyard with flourishing gardens, and imagine the smell of the bonfires to come; a hopeful reminder of the days when this pandemic will be behind us. I married a thoughtful man. I’m grateful.

The next morning, working from home, I could hear the one-man construction site outside my home office window. Saws. Drills. Hammers. Then it got quiet. And then there was a knock on my door.

The Carpenter leaned into the room wearing his bright orange safety sweater and his Seahawks ball cap, flat pencil tucked behind his ear, with that boyish smile and a mischievous glint in his eyes.

Here it comes.

“So, you know those wooden benches I made around the fire pit last summer?” he asked. “How fond are you of the backs of the benches? I’m running out of wood for the garden boxes. Thought I should check before this becomes another column.” Too late.

WriteOut of Her Mind