D asked me to create some fences & gates for our property, but I was overwhelmed by the prospect of designing something that permanent on a contractor's timeframe. I can have a very ambitious heart, sometimes. Even though I haven't touched a saw since 7th grade woodshop, my intention has always, always been to design & carve out all our own gates. At least that's how it felt when he asked me. You all wouldn't believe the things I can cry over. A botched business meeting, failed enterprise or devastated child? I'm fine, tell me what you need. But a sink full of dirty dishes between me & a cooking project or having someone else make me something I want to make myself? These things are very, very sad to me.
But one great thing about marrying your best friend is that they usually have a real pulse on what your actual capacities are. So, even though it was his first take on anything like this, here's what he came up with.
First of all, he had Eric, a handyman-turned beloved friend make this gate. D has such an innate way of being with people & seeing them for who they are. After being asked to make this, Eric changed his vocation from handyman to woodworker. He traded in his pickup with 300 angry liberal (we are happy liberals) bumperstickers for a gorgeous blue pickup with the words "Walnut Acres Woodworking," professionally stenciled on it's door. He said the fence changed his life.
On D's instruction, he took our cherry tree, once so abundant but now gone, & used it's 2 main arteries for the posts. D designed a gate with a window for our boys, echoing the shape of our roofs. There's 2 kinds of wood in this gate: Black Walnut & English Walnut. That's right. Interracial Wood for our Interracial Family.
D & Eric then collected pruned branches from all over town: there's over 10 kinds of local wood here, including birch, cherry, sycamore, pear, walnut, oak & peach. The frame ~ well, the frame breaks my heart a bit. Someone had asked Eric to rip out & discard a fence from the 1930's. As it turns out, it was 2000 year-old redwood! Eric was saving it for something special. Over 3 months he lovingly replaned & reshaped each plank as a gift.
I know. This one is just too beautiful to believe. These other gates were co-designed between D & John, a local landscaper. Then our friend Sean put all of his very talented heart & soul into making them really special. The post used to hold endless leaves outside of my bedroom. It made us feel like we lived in a magical treehouse. The branch fell during a storm last Spring that left huge trees blocking every street in town. It was a sad time for many of us, & a very local reminder of the realities of global warming's impact on the weather. What a sweet treat for D add it into the frame of our home, creating another room for us outside. The birch bars let our children be safely contained while also letting them feel connected to the world they're a part of. How often do our gates & fences make us feel alone, separate or better?
One thing I love about D is his love of people. Another thing I love about him is his appreciation for wood. He wanted to make sure that we always remember that wood is a part of a tree. The other thing I love about him is that he lives out of the box, in nearly every part of his life.
As far as the neighborhood kids are concerned, these are not walls, but mini-trees to climb, spots to sit & eat bits of cheese.
On long days when I'm really needing a parenting partner, I've got this bit of D, waving at me in the back garden.
And pointing the way to the woodshop, the boy's woodshop, as neither D nor I have gotten to that part of our lives where we are woodworkers with our own shop, is this lovely gate. It reminds me of castle walls, The Mists of Avalon, & Irish Stew. It's homey & lovey & creative & makes me feel very loved, indeed.
How can I ever doubt him? He's so committed to being a clear, bright & shiny mirror for everyone around him...It's impossible not to be a better person in his space because his listening for others is so high; his appreciation for who we are is so what we hope others see in us. D made these fences in the same Waldorf style that has inspired so much of how we've crafted our little family. I never would have come up with these myself.
We met when I was 19 & he was 25. Tomorrow D turns 37. It's been a constant surprise to see what he comes up with, to see what happens when someone who's as driven as he is puts his heart into something new. I am one grateful, lucky wife.
Happy Birthday, One. I love you more than I can say.