New Spaces

I have friends who are traveling this week. So many of them chose the same week to escape their regular lives and go to other places. As near as I can tell they did not consult together in advance, and this week is not a holiday. I wonder what confluence brought them all to decide on this week for their trips. Perhaps this is when it finally felt safe, after the summer vacation surge, before the weather turned cold. I like seeing their photos and recognizing how each of them is navigating the interactions of their wanderlust and the ongoing pandemic. Not surprising that seeing their various photos and locations has me wishing for a trip of my own. I would like to go somewhere, be in a new place, see new sights. Instead I reserve the funds I would use on travel for other purposes. One kid needs a medical therapy which isn’t covered by insurance, another has a surgery sometime in the early part of next year, a third is talking about giving college a try next fall. And then there is the kitchen remodel. So I will continue to enjoy the photos of my friends and try to schedule some day trips where the only cost is gas money and some time. Though time can be expensive for a self-employed person with deadlines.

I can’t afford to travel to new places, not without giving up things which matter to me more, but I can make my existing places be new. At least a little bit. One thing we’ve done was removing a thirty year old walnut tree from its spot beside the patio. The tree was afflicted with thousand cankers disease and has been slowly dying for the past several years.

Back of a house with a small wooden deck and a patio. Tree in the foreground with 3/4 of its branches dead.

It is a little hard to see, but most of the green at the top of the frame are branches from a neighboring honey locust tree. The walnut tree’s branches were mostly dead. This spring it sprouted new branches directly from its trunk in a burst of survival panic. By August, most of those leaves had started yellowing and falling.

Before giving the okay for my neighbor to cut it down, I put my hand against the cool bark of the trunk and apologized to the tree that we couldn’t save it. I planted this tree myself twenty years ago and it was a glorious shade tree for most of those years. Our patio looks different now. I’m still getting used to the newly open vista and I will miss the enclosed feeling that the tree gave to the patio even though it was mostly bare trunks and bare branches. We’re talking about how to re-frame the space. Perhaps we’ll put in raised beds for herbs, tomatoes, and strawberries now that we have a spot with full sun from noon onward.

And we did end up with a serendipitous patio end table. We’ve ordered some end sealant to help it dry out without splitting, so over time we should get to have a heavy-duty ornament for our patio. The other logs may also be turned into various projects. Walnut is good wood, and we’d like to be able to remember the tree with something.

Another space I’ve begun renewing is my downstairs office. After my meandering post of the other day, I started making small changes, cleaning up piles, removing accumulated empty boxes. This is the spot with the dresser I plan to remove where I intend to install my faux window.

Couch divides the middle of a jumbled office space with a reading nook to one side and a working desk on the other.

Perhaps if I post a photo of the “before” state of my office that will help me stay motivated to change things enough to create a satisfying “after” photo. It is a valid hypothesis. We’ll see if it works.

Honestly, my life is full of good things. I have a nice house. I have a green space around my house that lets me feel the breeze, sit with trees, and look at mountains. Even if it is a long time before I can afford to travel anywhere, I will not be lacking.