IT’S BEEN A BUSY late-summer building season at the Nuthatch.
Finally, our front steps are up to code, now seven normal-size steps where once there were four GIANT steps. (Anyone playing “Mother May I” would have had to ask special permission to get up to our front door.)
We are also now the proud owners of Center Island’s only art cart. We finally caved and acquired an electric golf cart, the preferred-by-many method for getting around on our island, where you aren’t allowed to drive privately owned internal-combustion-powered vehicles on the one-lane community roads.
The front steps replacement was a giant project for me. (Bob Vila’s job is safe.) I was helped along a bit by our generous island friend Dan Lewis, a union carpenter in his former life. But yours truly did much of the pounding, sawing, finishing and polishing. And everything is now legal, from the grippable handrails to the upright balusters that a four-inch ball can’t be pushed through (that’s in the state building code).
We’ve been among the sole holdouts who preferred to walk or bike around the island, but old legs keep getting older and it was time for a backup mode of transportation. So when an island neighbor was upgrading to shiny and new recently, we snapped up their old-but-still-functional (like us) E-Z-Go golf cart.
The first thing the cart needed was a cargo box for carrying groceries and supplies. I crafted one from cedar planks and repurposed bits of the old staircase, giving the cargo compartment a finned profile like the family station wagon of my childhood. But why stop there? Since seeing art cars displayed at Seattle’s Fremont Fair, daughter Lillian has always wanted to create one. So we offered her our golf cart as a blank canvas. Over Labor Day weekend, she gathered swordferns and leaves of salal, Oregon grape, and maple, daubed them with paint and printed the cart with nature’s images. Because the squat little vehicle’s basic color is dark green, and “Wind in the Willows” is one of our favorite read-aloud books, we’ve dubbed it Mr. Toad.
Other than that, the Nuthatch has endured deck repairs, railing repairs, gutter repairs and construction of attractive cedar screens around the not-so-attractive rain barrel and electric heat pump. It’s all part of this pioneering island life.
Winter will be a nice break. All I have to do then is chop firewood.