Yesterday Doug and I started our new one-day-a-week routine of working with the crew building our new house, Underhill.  Thursdays is all we have for February because Doug is teaching genetics at University of Wisconsin-Platteville Monday thru Wednesday and Fridays, and I am juggling three writing projects – all with March 1 deadlines.

Doug (on right) works with Brad and Prairie finishing one of the main beams.

Whole Trees Architecture and Construction has agreed to let us work with the crew as much as we can.  We’ll keep track of the time we put in and get a deduction for our labor when the final costs are tallied, and that’s good because building a house – even a little one – has a big price tag.  But it’s also good because nothing feels better than building your own shelter.  It must be hardwired in our DNA.  Most mammals do it and so do birds – even fish and insects.

It just feels GOOD on a primal level.

It felt especially good yesterday.  The sun was shining and the task at hand was finishing the surface of some of the timbers that will make the houses frame.

Doug worked with an angle grinder to smooth out rough spots and round the places on the logs where branches reached out.

I came behind with an orbital sander and smoothed out scratches, nicks and the tracks other equipment have left on the limbs.

This was an amazingly satisfying job.  As I worked my way along the surface of each timber, I was thinking about where it will be in the house.  Several are trees that will be in prominent places that I can well imagine.

As each piece is done, it is moved out of the work area.

One massive piece will hold up the northwest corner of the house.  We will pass it every time we come and go.  The more I worked on it, the more I love its burly form.  It reminded me of the neck of a powerful draft horse when every muscle is engaged.

The next post I worked on was the wonderful tree that will be part of our bedroom wall with branches that arch across the span of the room and brace into the post on the opposite wall.  I gave that delicately branched timber extra TLC.

While I was working on that one, the sun sank behind a bank of clouds and the wind picked up.  I barely noticed.

Suddenly the day was over.  The finished timbers were stored outside the work area in groups that match their ultimate house location.

I was filled with joy all the way home – and I can’t wait till next Thursday.

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