The math of after

A few days after the storage unit fire, Josh came home covered in soot and with a huge smile said:

Stay right there.  I am going to blow your mind…

And he did.

For context, think of an item that you own that makes your heart sing a bit just looking at it.  One seemingly superfluous thing of beauty that you’d be really sad to know you will never be connected with again.  Like Ma’s china shephardess doll that she carried with her all through the “Little House on the Prairie” frontier adventures.  For me, this was a small and simple set of antique Japanese hand formed clay pitchers with delicate hand-painted cranes and blossoms scattered over them.  These had been in a box labeled “Mel’s Special Things – FRAGILE” on the top of one of the storage unit shelves.  They were the first item I thought of when I saw the leveled building.  Josh knew this.  When he came home from searching through that rubble, this is what he had:

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Against all possibility after fire and the excavator had churned everything in the building over, Josh found these little pitchers intact.  He’d followed a path of remnants of my clothing to a point where he could see the excavator must have dumped our belongings, far from the original unit location.  He’d dug through and at the bottom of the heap pulled these out.  He’s since even cleaned them up so only a bit of that char remains.  Small miracles.

Josh’s equivalent was a beautiful old mantle clock and his family pocket and stopwatches.  No sign of that mantle clock unfortunately.  But he did recover the pocket watches that came through his father’s and mother’s families.  Hardly in original shape.  But something.

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Especially when you consider that these were about all we were able to salvage.  Like the KitchenAid stand mixer that seemed like a heavy gray tank was nothing more than a scrap of twisted metal.  And take a guess at what this is…

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That would be our former “fire safe.”  Ha!

We’ve heard so many stories over the past couple of weeks…  The French woman who had all of her family heirloom furniture and possessions in storage while she rented a furnished home…  The middle-aged woman who had lost her great-great-grandmother’s family china set, from China.  The couple who lost boxes upon boxes of the highly coveted Rowantrees pottery they’d inherited from the potter herself when she passed.  The mint antique truck that was parked at the back of the car storage unit.  How quickly and definitely one event can change things…

For us we’ve had an interesting bit of reacquiring and connection, like the new sleeping bag that mysteriously showed up in our car one day, a hand-carved plate and wooden toy that made their way to us, boxes of clothing and offers of next years snowsuits…  The notes, the letters, the phone calls…

It is strange to think of not having the specific items that we’d spent a lifetime collecting around us.  So many of them connecting us to specific people, events, places.  They were markers of our life to this point.  It is sad, but also interesting to see that their loss is not really changing our present much.  Except some modified approaches to cooking and some creative wedding attire ensembles….

Wood is still being milled (with help from a new almost-seven-year-old apprentice) to the point where Josh had run out of logs and needed to call in some assistance to move more logs up to the mill.

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On very hot milling days, the hand pump location has turned out to be particularly handy….

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The children and I have been on soil harvesting adventures to gather as much of the deep dark topsoil as we can from where it has gathered around stumps and rocks.

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And washed up seaweed gathering adventures up the road to mulch the gathered soil.  In this case it’s more I gather, they play, but all good.  Although the seaweed is disappearing from the soil just as quickly as we put it on… it turns out our dog thinks it’s a great treat we put there just for her…

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We had another magical visit out to Bill Coperthwaite, complete with another one of the random but not random coincidences that seem to happen on those visits.  This time it was meeting the other visitor that day who we discovered had lived a few hundred feet across a beaver pond from us for 8 years while we were in New Hampshire.  We never met then.  Instead we met 300 miles away at Bill Coperthwaite’s yurt…

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I came home from another permaculture course weekend to find this crew hard at work on a solar shower…

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And on an unexpectedly chilly June night, Josh finished knitting Aria’s hat for next winter…

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Despite the abrupt end to much of what marked our past, the present and future are still wide open with so much possibility.

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Just don’t expect us to serve you a thoroughly-mixed cake when you visit anytime soon… 🙂

3 thoughts on “The math of after

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