A September Ritual

barn roof

Each fall I sweep the dry duff off of our funky barn roof before the Dampness ensues

One of my September rituals has been clearing the corrugated roof of our funky back barn. The rambling, open-air structure is an explosion of three dissimilar building concepts, fused together with the oddball valleys and warped pitches of an under-planned roofline, one that collects piles of fallen duff of the redwood trees overhead each year. Though it’s a bit of an eyesore to most sensibilities, the building is structurally sound, and I’ve enjoyed studying it over the years whenever I clear the roof during the dry season, thinking about how best to put the barn to good use before the Dampness ensues until the next spring. I’ve learned to appreciate the improvised mess of its design with the same happy reluctance I reserve for the work of Frank Gehry.

The barn’s deceptively vast interior spaces are multi-functional and well-suited to our needs: a portion of the building is where I store paints and hardware, metal-working tools and surplus gear; a portion houses one of our wells; a portion we use as an annex to our sculpture studio; a portion is to store large equipment, a boat and other materials. Over the summer I’ve been trying to clear space inside to better support the increasing scope of our wowhaus projects. We recently sold our broken down McCormick-Deering tractor, which got me thinking about using the barn as a drying shed for the wood I’m about to have milled from our land. In conjunction with my new woodshop and a related body of work I have in development, I plan to source and mill more of my own logs, and have just enough room in the barn to air-dry a few thousand board feet. This spring I plan to build a solar kiln for a final kiss of dry heat.

redwoods above

Taking a break from the work, I lie on my back on the roof and stare up into the redwoods