Random Read

Building Practice {excerpt}

We admired and photographed our building and posted the photos on our Web site for friends and relatives to view. Our neighbor, Kevin, a construction worker from Chicago, stopped haying to come over and show our building to his friend, Luigi, also a construction worker. I walked in from the garden, feet covered in dirt and straw, shirt soaked with sweat and river water, to meet them. Luigi introduced himself, then said, “When Kev told me ‘There’s this guy building a house of straw down the road,’ I said, ‘Naw, you’re messin’ with me! I gotta’ see this!’”

We explained the straw bale building process and, because it was our latest preoccupation, described the difficulty of plastering. “We figure we’ll have put something like 700 hours into the plastering when it’s over,” I told him.

“That’s a lotta’ hard work, baby doll,” Luigi said.

Days later, after our long, dry early summer, the rains began. A late June storm battered the southern wall, removing most of its final coat of plaster. Our exterior became sandy, orange mud pooled beside the foundation. 

Spring Wind, August 2005