The Intervention


Through our thin glass front door, I hear the unmistakable sounds of progress. Thumping and hammering, the muffled “whump” of a shovel sifting through dirt and the occasional outburst buzz saw. In between, the lull and laughter of Spanish banter.

These are the sounds of an intervention.

Mom could no longer stand by and watch our house spiral into further decline. For quite some time she’s been eyeing up the farm’s scars and wounds that we so conveniently ignore: the spider- web cracks in the plaster, the water stains on the ceiling, the curling wall paper in the kitchen, the radiators’ seasonal shedding of paint.

Tally those cosmetic blemishes and add in some toddler-induced wear and tear — the endless trail of wall scuffs, the crayola artistry on the bathroom door, and the mangled window blinds — and let’s face it. The house looks rough.

Mom couldn’t take it anymore and she saw an open door.

A few months ago I hired a guy that to repair the brick pillar at the end of the drive which suffered a vehicle related mishap during a winter storm. Perhaps the driver was texting his girlfriend or squeezing his ketchup onto his burger — our drive is on a straight stretch of road that doesn’t lend itself to swerving about — once the snow stopped we discovered a car bumper and brick shrapnel covering the road. Since then, listing pillar has been gradually sinking in the ground.

So I hired Jose to fix it. But the day he should have been down by the road with bricks and mortar, I discovered him casing the house, picking at the clapboard, squinting at the windows.

“Your mom told me to look around and see what else needs to be done,” he said simply.

By the time I arrived at work, an email from Mom blinked expectantly: merry christmas, you’re getting a new front porch!

Apparently Mom intends to start from the front entryway and work her way inside. And why not? The wood is thin and rotted and the whole porch is pitched like a ski slope.

The bonus has been the landscaping. To see the porch, much less replace it, Jose and friends have had to hack back the towering 90-yeard old boxwoods that hover around our house. That has led to more pruning, tree removal, poison ivy defoliation — the works. Jose even unearthed the old slate slabs and voila, a walk way is reborn. Thank you, Mom!

To date, the paper-thin porch boards have been removed and the frame of the new porch has replaced it. When they stripped away the porch, I hoped to find some valuable old treasures — maybe a mason jar of mint-condition pennies, an old hunting knife, or some civil war bullets. But the only relics were ours: a rusted bud light can, a bald tennis ball and a mouse trap.

Still, I can’t complain. The Spanish chatter, the thumps of concrete bags hitting the ground, and the buzz of a chain saw help shape my summer dream: a shady summer retreat, complete with big wicker chairs, a good book and a sweaty glass of lemonade…