Strange Summer

This past spring and summer were unlike any I’ve experienced. With a global pandemic and social unrest as a backdrop, Emily and I prepared for the arrival of our first child. We had plenty to worry about with Emily being pregnant and working in healthcare but our son, Aidan, was born healthy and happy at the end of August.

I was busy in spring working on the house’s electrical system and building two beehives. While many more people than usual planted vegetable gardens this spring, I chose to devote my time to other endeavors since last year’s garden became somewhat neglected.

Around 10,000 bees waiting to move into their new home.
The two Layens-style beehives I built.

In the second week of May, I sowed five pounds of buckwheat seed for bee forage, installed two 3-lb. packages of bees in the new hives (approximately 10,000 bees each), and planted several types of lavender from a local lavender farm. I also doubled our blueberry stand from eight plants to sixteen although later in the season the birds devoured all of the berries before we could! Despite the happiness of spring, May ended sadly when my grandma, Mary Cook, died after a brief, unexpected illness.

June was strawberry time and we harvested more than we could eat so friends and family got to share. Emily and her parents repainted our large deck, making it look much more inviting and adding years to its life. With a baby on the way, I embarked on a complete remodel of what would become his bedroom and the hallway in the upstairs of our house which I finished (mostly) with time to spare.

Our newly painted deck.

July was devoted mostly to renovations, electrical work, and other small home projects. By the end of summer I completed our electrical service upgrade from 100 amps to 200 amps, ran new service to and throughout the shed, and had it all pass official inspection. All of the local fireworks shows for July Fourth were canceled due to the pandemic but that didn’t stop people from buying and launching their own. We were able to enjoy a show without even leaving home.

On July Fourth, we watched fireworks from home.

August saw the final push to tie up loose ends before Aidan’s arrival and spend some time relaxing, enjoying life, and reflecting on our blessings.

A honeybee enjoys buckwheat flowers.

A Pause

It’s been a long time since I posted. Life has a habit of rushing along. The current situation, however, is a good time for a pause to reflect on all that we have to be grateful for.

I’ve kept a copy of this poem in my bedside table since discovering it about a year ago and I think it’s more appropriate now than ever:

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things”

Yesterday, we had a fresh snowfall transform the landscape. The tulips and daffodils persevere, as do we.

A Wing on the Water

Many boatbuilders and boatbuilding books recommend finishing the sail first when embarking on a sailboat project. The chief reason for doing this is that you’ll want to sail right away when the boat is finished. Sailmaking is a good winter project that can be done indoors and a finished sail sitting around is a great incentive to finish the boat. With this in mind, I bought a sail kit for Blue Moon and sewed it together in less than a week in March. Having all of the pieces laser cut and numbered helps speed up the process!

The sail is made of Dacron fabric and sewn with polyester thread. Grommets along the luff (the forward edge) will allow the sail to be laced onto the mast, a very simple rigging arrangement. I added a pair of grommets two-thirds of the way up the leech (the after edge) to attach a small U.S. flag.

The finished sail, just over 12 feet by 8 feet.

Unfortunately, progress on the boat itself didn’t progress at all this summer. I did remove it from the crate I’d built and Emily and I moved the hull into our very large front porch. This is a great space for working on the boat but one project after another pulled me away from Blue Moon all spring and summer. Maybe I’ll be able to work on it some this winter (fingers crossed).