Over the summer of 2015, I built myself a garden shed. After getting the walls up, I replaced some broken glass and installed the window. Next I began to arrange the storage.
My plan was to make a place for everything. Rolled fence netting and fence posts were stored in the gable attic and tools lined the walls.
I built shelves on the east end.
I installed a roof cap and nailed battens over the exterior cracks between the boards.
Then I got word that we were moving out of our school housing to a temporary home on a lake. Working mostly alone, in two weeks I packed up our family’s life of sixteen years and with the help of a hired boy moved 3/4 of it into storage. At the same time I was driving Lucy to Maine to look at colleges. My school year began.
There was no time to finish the garden shed. I tacked a tarp over the door opening for the winter.
Doors for the garden shed were on my list for the summer of 2016. However Lucy graduated from high school, I was deep in meetings about building our retirement house, and, between driving carpools, trying to teach Lucy to drive. My first-choice contractor quit only days before the house project was supposed to begin. I hired a new contractor. Jon and Amanda’s wedding took place in Vermont.
In November of that year I measured the shed doorway, collected boards, and sawed them into pieces.
I laid everything out in the tight floor space of the packed garage.
Then I was swept away by my school year and the daily unfolding drama of building the house. Again I tacked a tarp over the doorway for the winter.
In the summer of 2017, I moved us from the lake house into the construction zone that was our new home. No stairs or railings, one toilet at ground level, a kitchen sink, and a hot plate. No exterior door knobs, so book boxes stacked in front of the doors to keep the dogs in. Cardboard taped to all the floors for months, construction dust, fire alarms going off in the night. A flood.
It was not a time when I could think about the garden shed. Once more I tacked a tarp over the doorway for the winter.
This spring our school tore down a small outbuilding. About five years ago a friend of mine had built stout doors for this structure, and with students had carved the school’s logo into the wood. I saw the giant doors leaning against a wall. What was going to happen to the doors? I inquired. I was told they’d probably go on the burn pile. I asked if I could take them instead. Sure, and did I need any help? Of course I said no, I could do it.
I’m foolish that way.
The 7-foot-3 inch tall, 2.5-inch thick doors were incredibly heavy. They were right at the edge of what I could handle safely, and as I stood each one up and walked it tiny step by tiny step to my truck I was aware it could get away from me and slap me flat or fall to smash my truck tail lights. I held my breath. I made two trips back to the farm, one with each door, backing my truck to the garden shed and leaning the doors against the wall. They were more than a foot too tall, and a foot too wide. I put cut down the garden shed doors on my summer list.
Last week, when it was too cold to paint, I finally got to the job. I laid the doors out on garden carts and strung a half dozen heavy-duty extension cords to run electricity from the house. I cut 10″ from the bottom of each door and 5″ from the top.
It was a challenge to put up the heavy doors. Not only did I have to prop them in place on sloping ground so the design met exactly, but since the thick doors overlap the building I had to build up the wall under the butts of the hinges with 2x4s overlaid with 1x4s. For this I cut down some of the old treated lumber I’d removed from the apartment deck.
The doors are really too big for my little shed, but they will be less obtrusive when they can be stained barn red to match the walls. Meanwhile the connection to the school and camp makes me happy. Back in the 80s I was the person who resurrected this logo and splashed it on all our publications. Now it’s so beloved that there are key chains and earrings, and more than one young person has it as a tattoo.
I hung the doors level, only realizing after they were in place that the building itself is not level. I decided I would figure out what, if anything, to do about that in the summer of 2019.
Garden shed doors! A five-year project! But at least I’m done with tarps.