My two brothers and I tore down the old shed yesterday, with gloves and prybars and claw hammers and a mallet and a sledgehammer.
My youngest brother lives in the house we grew up in, and it’s been time for a new shed for at least a couple summers now.
I remember when it was new, back there at the southwest corner of our yard, tucked next to the row of pine trees. At least a few times, it was my summer chore to paint it: Hot, messy work, and no shade. One year I also painted stripes on a rusting garden implement behind the shed, and on the legs of my blue jeans, too.
Wasps built nests every year under the cornice above the shed door. Sometimes you’d see mice inside scurrying into the corners when you opened the door to get the lawn mower. Even in winter, the shed smelled like half-rotting grass clippings, oil spots and gasoline vapor.
When I was a little older and a little taller, I discovered the shed roof made for a perfect sniper’s perch playing Lazer Tag. It was a risk, since you had to break across the wide open back half the yard to get there, and you had to be careful not to thump too much jumping up and hooking your hands over the roof edge, then scrambling and pulling yourself up. But it was totally worth it, to lie there on your belly, knowing you were invisible against the dark treeline, and pick off opponents from the length of the yard as they came sneaking into view.
It took us a couple hours to tear it down: The roof and walls were pretty easy to rip apart, but the floor was solid and heavy, and when we flipped the base over to get at the four-by-fours beneath, we had a tough time pulling the beams from the plywood.
Gravel’s coming to cover the mud and stones that mark where the shed was, and the pile of lumber will get hauled away, and pretty soon, my brother will have a new, bigger shed in the old one’s place.
It’ll take longer for the one in my mind to disappear.