A Long Eerie Night

The hum of our neighbor's generator filled the pitch-black silence between my pleas, "Dear God, don't let the old pines fall on our house tonight."

Jet engines overhead reminded me of the angst we felt just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Logan airport must have changed the flight path again. Wow, I feel sorry for those passengers and their crews.

Rain, wind, and sleep competed for my attention. When will it stop? This isn't even half of what the hurricane victims felt earlier this year.

I am grateful, but that was a long, eerie night.

Dad and Noah crackled birdhouse photo

Childlike Wonder

My dad has always loved nature. He noticed tiny tadpoles in the river when he taught us to fish. The smell of fresh-cut wood energizes him. He is in awe of sunsets at the beach. And he has been known to summon us to view cardinals visiting his many bird feeders. He has always been full of childlike wonder.

Caring for birds has been a special hobby for Dad. He provides shelter and seed, and perhaps most importantly, he tries every trick in the book or on the market to outsmart their common enemy—those darn squirrels. Honestly, those squirrels don't have a chance.

The smell of fresh-cut wood led my dad to practice the art of carpentry for most of his life. He was always building something for someone, and he loved every minute of it whether he was paid for his services or not.

I spent many hours alongside my dad, but despite his best efforts, I never caught on to building physical objects—give me a book to write or a database to design and I'm in, conceptual objects are my specialty. I did inherit the love of fresh-cut wood from my dad. The aroma of sawdust or firewood brings me comfort.

Thankfully, we will always have the memories
of the time we spent creating together.

Making Memories

"Can I spend the morning with my only grandson?" Dad asked. They measured and sawed and nailed and painted until a green birdhouse was born. When my son returned home, my husband climbed the ladder and hung the motel on the side of one old pine. My son hung the picture of the birdhouse and its creators on the side of his bookshelf. He has watched the photo's surface slowly crackle for more than a decade.

This morning I told my son that the bird motel closed its doors. The big bad storm blew the birdhouse down. It landed on the three-hundred-pound picnic table that his grandfather also built for us, and the house split in pieces. His "Aw . . ." reaction reminded me that teenagers have memories too.

One summer my husband decided to use the tools he inherited from his grandfather to build a treehouse for our two children. This house was a massive do-it-yourself project, yet much less intimidating with a master carpenter on one side and an eager playmate on his other. Together, my three favorite men built a playhouse in the pines that withstood the big bad storm.

I think we will all miss seeing the birds frequent our small green second home. Someday we will pass the well-used treehouse and the three-hundred-pound picnic table along to another family. But thankfully, we will always have the memories of the time we spent creating together, and I will always feel comforted by the scent of fresh-cut wood.

What scent brings back a childhood memory for you? Send me your story today. I'd love to read or listen to it.

Share your stories often. Save your life story forever. I promise . . . You won't regret it.


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