Last summer I made a promise to myself and I made another to one of my six-year-old grandson, Koen.
I am creating a writing place in the upper loft of our century-old carriage house a few steps away from the house on Bittersweet Farm. I promised myself that by my birthday in November I would have my writing loft enclosed and insulated. I promised my grandson that we would sleep out there together.
My friend Neil Veydt delivered the door in his shiny Chevy Silverado pick-up truck. By my birthday the walls were insulated. Our son Kyle come out to build the partition dividing the barn loft in half and he installed a nice exterior-grade door in the wall. Dale, our son-in-law was there that day to help.
My friend Ed Pilarz upgraded the electrical service to accommodate a good heater or air conditioner unit, depending on the season. My dear friend Dennis Rosales drove out and braved the height and pitch of the roof and the cold and repaired a leak in the metal roof. One sunny autumn Saturday the men of Brigham Hardware in Concord cut me a pane of glass to replace a the one that was broken. I disassembled the window and installed it.
I covered the walls with faux shiplap made from sheets of plywood. Mark and Carol Haavisto gave me a like-new space heater. I found a good piece of carpet for the floor. I had a wooden desk made for the space I moved a favorite old rocker in. The rocker has flat arms perfect for supporting a writing board or a keyboard board. After the first hard frost I moved my front porch rocker to the loft in case a friend comes to talk.
A few years ago my son gave me a nice black light fixture. I took it out of a box in the basement and installed it directly over my writing desk.
I studied farmhouse and craftsman-style trim, made another trip to Home Depot for lumber, and trimmed the window.
A bout of gout in my hand is preventing me from finishing the trim in the floor and ceiling roof and installing beadboard or more shiplap on the ceiling but the gout will pass and I will finish the loft after the first of the year.
Still it is a cozy, useful place and on Thanksgiving weekend I was able to keep my promise. We got a pile of blankets and our pillows and made our places next to each other on the floor of the loft. (Sweet Keira stayed inside where it was cozy, with mom and grandma).
The night was clear and cold and with the heater and the blankets it was perfect for sleeping. When we turned off the lights and made our nests we could see each other’s faces in the light of the moon coming through the window. For an hour we took turns telling stories and then we grew quiet, listening to the sounds of the night in the country.
The old barn creaked in the wind. A plane droned across the night sky. Later we could hear the sound of a train somewhere out in the distance. Where were they going out in this late night darkness?
We lay in the silence listening. I watched little Koen, thick covers pulled up under his little cleft chin, eyes shining in the moonlight. Suddenly the silence was broken. A loud pack of coyotes was howling in the woods to the north. When the loud, erie howling faded, Kohns said, “Can they get us?”
“No way,” I said as if I was a coyote whisperer.
I told him how much I loved him and he told me the same insisting he loved me more than I loved him which is quite impossible. We prayed and soon after that his breathing slowed and he drifted off to sleep and I lay uncomfortably on the hard floor of an old barn loft—a grandpa with a very happy soul filled with a feeling of warm satisfaction, and missing the comfort of my soft bed and the comforts I’m used to and praying my gout would go away and never come back.
Late in the night I had an occasion to remember that another friend had brought me very creative thoughtful gift perfect for a man of my maturity. It contained a handy appliance designed to make it unnecessary for me to climb down the stairs and trudge through the darkness to the house in the middle of the night. In the interest of good taste I will not describe that to you in any detail.
Sometime after midnight rain begin to fall. Even in the wee hours of the morning when you long for the sweetness of sleep, the sound of rain on a metal roof as a calming musical quality to it. I kept a promise to myself I kept another promise to the little fellow sleeping beside me and we had made an unforgettable Bittersweet Farm memory together.
December 9, 2020