Tuesday, July 16, 2002

When the Workers Leave...

A rather perplexing thought has been dawning on me; our lives will be quiet, even dull, perhaps, when all the work is done. No more heavy equipment rolling up the driveway, no more speculation about dynamite versus Butanimite, or jack hammers splitting the airwaves. The trenches will be backfilled and carpeted with green grass, and the aluminum cans, pvc cuts, duct tape scraps and other refuse that has been accumulating will be swept up and hauled away with all the empty cement sacks, irrigation cases, and doughnut boxes. There won't be any more trucks, radios playing, sitting in the driveway. No more whistling, singing or smoking men walking by the bedroom windows at 6:00 a.m..

I have grown accustomed to looking out any window and finding activity, progress, work. We watch from the breakfast table, and peek from the laundry room. We know the rumble and grind from the Ditch Witch, the steady pounding of pick axes knocking at the still hardpacked ground. We mark each by day by the regular progress made by the landscaping crew, or by anticipating the arrival of the new crew that will come to add their part to the pool.

The day the gunite team worked was particularly fascinating. Antonio, quiet and modest, was the nozzle man. He managed and tamed the powerful hose and nozzle that jet forth the cement formula that gave our pool its shape and form. The force from the pump and the weight of the hose full of concrete was explosive and everyone would pause to watch Antonio leaning forward, steadily, with every blast of gunite. He laid the gunite on like frosting on cake, calm and confident. The other men followed closely behind and fine tuned his work. They cut away, measured, leveled and cut again, until stairs took shape and walls were defined. They smoothed the gunite, and laughed, occasionally, and called for more water or exchanged remarks about the heat, the cure time, the dance in Tijuana. And now they're gone. They left in their trucks. Some were picked up, by family or friends, at the bottem of the driveway. They left without glancing back. It was just another day, another job.

Soon, they'll all leave for the last time. The trees will be standing, taking root. The feijoa guava shrubs will be around the house, with cape mallow between them. The pool will reflect the clear blue sky, and billowy white clouds, in the shape of a Lego, as we've described it for Max. The driveway will be lined with grapes on the fence and fruit trees in the side strip, and the only sounds at 6:00a.m. will be the soft click and whirr of the sprinklers on the slope, birds calling, the cats purring drowsily. It's hard to imagine, even somewhat unsettling. It will be something to grow accustomed to.

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