There is a small building that sits at the end of our unpaved driveway. Although it has a bay door (garage door) its age and appearance lead me to believe that it has not always been used as a garage. As a matter of fact, our plans for the building had included a conversion to a small studio space that might be open to the public sometime in the future. Nine months of active habitation and lack of funding have cemented its role as storage for anything to do with yard maintenance. It is quite charming in a rather dilapidated way.
The exterior is covered with peach coloured stucco. The stucco is so old that it has began to crumble in some places exposing the chicken wire mesh and wood beneath. The paint on the bay and side doors is fading away in shades of mossy green. Sometime in the not too distant past, someone has taken the effort to create a blue glass mosaic triangle design above the bay door. The window at the back has been boarded over. Broken many years before, you can still find pieces of the glass in the garden patch below the window. By the side door, a broken tombstone exhorts " sweet babes finally rest" below the names engraved between 1888 and 1890. Lift the bay door and enter into the garage’s dusty recess.
You’ll find yourself standing on a combination of several layers of broken concrete floor and hard packed dirt. The toad that lives in the eastern wall will most likely scramble away to hide under the lawn mower. At some point the walls had plaster laid over slat but now only the slats remain on one wall, the rest having fallen away over the years to reveal the barn board beneath. Beams run from side to side riddled with rusty nails housing a large variety of gardening paraphernalia. By the way, interesting word "paraphernalia". The translation from Latin is basically "property owned by a married woman" (a little bit of high school Latin is a dangerous thing, even so many years later). The air is over baked redolent with dust, oil and a faint tinge of gasoline. The noises of the yard are muted in the still air. Listen closely and you will hear a droning sound, so low and soft it’s more a vibration than a sound. If you’ve ever sat in your backyard at twilight and heard a single engine plane pass far, far above than you have some idea as to the sound I’m speaking of. Step closer to the western wall and the sound grows a little louder but not by much. Behind the barn board wall a nest of bumblebees has settled for the summer. They’ve made their way through an opening in the wooden eaves and into the wall.
If these were honeybees instead of bumblebees this might be cause for concern and a call to the local bug man. Bumblebees are the live-and-let-live members of the bee family. A nest located in a wall is a bit unusual; a pile of leaves or the woodpile is a more likely place. A reasonable explanation could be the sandy nature of the soil in our yard. Sandy soil attracts ants and ants are notorious raiders of bumblebee nurseries ergo the higher up, the safer the bumble "babies". Bumblebees will sting if their home is threatened but they don’t swarm like their cousins the honeybee. They’re not copious honey makers, producing only enough honey to feed their babies (around 4 ounces). Bumblebees don’t use the same nest twice. By the first frost the nest will be empty of life. An entire lifetime will pass in one season within the western wall of the garage. Oblivious to time and destiny the bees go about their business, pollinating flowers, building the nest and ensuring the continuation of their species. For the bees, the garage is one stop in a long line that has stretched backwards for a time undetermined. Its walls house and nurture the future of that line, a symbolic way station to tomorrow and tomorrow’s tomorrow. Perhaps the garage does not lie at the end of our unpaved driveway. Depending on your perspective, it just might sit at the beginning of the road yet to be taken, the one that stretches out ahead.