Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I'm Hearing Voices Again

Like a scene from the movie "Field of Dreams" I have been hearing a tiny voice for some time now. "Go build a patio.", it says. I hear it coming through the living room window, in my sleep, or when I am in front of the sink shaving. Sounds a lot like Mary.

Originally we were going to go away for a bit in July, but we decided to stay home and become immersed in another project . Operation Patio is set for July. That "voice" was irresistible. I've been watching HGTV to gather some inspiration, but I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do in this little part of Fiskdale. Problem is, there are so many things I would like to incorporate into the project that I have to edit my ideas so it won't become one of those suburban backyard monstrosities.

Gonna be hard.

The Koi Pond is out, but a water feature would be nice. Maybe a large clay urn bubbling water over the top into a deep gravel filled hole with a recirculating pump? Hmmm. I like it. It's been done, but not done here. "Keep it simple.", the voice says.

A built in gas grill would be awesome, but just some room for a portable grill, and a fire pit will suffice. It's easy to go overboard. Self restraint is necessary in the design process. I have to work on that. Maybe a rock grotto with a hot tub... "Don't be a jackass", the voice whispers.

Planning just how the patio will blend into what we already have also takes a lot of thought. Can't be too outlandish, and have to design it so that it looks as though it has always been there. This is the kind of challenge I enjoy.

A patio is essentially an outside extension of ones home, without the walls and roof. A natural flow from the inside to the outside, and vice versa, should be part of the plan, and the design should be mindful of the architectural elements already in place at the home, and neighborhood.

Living here in Fiskdale, there are lots of older homes, and we live in one of them on our street, so designing something for modern day use, against something from yesterday will take some serious thinking. So, that automatically rules out concrete for the patio. Looks like stone is going to be the winner here. "Stone is good.", says the voice.


There are some wild grape vines on one end of the property. I don't know what variety they are, or if they are native, or the remnants of cultivated vines, but they are here, so maybe a pergola with grape vines would fit in. Wisteria would be nice, as well. The huge grape like clusters of purple flowers look great, but Wisteria is crazy. It will grow 18 inches in a day or two, and hook itself onto what ever is nearby.

Don't get into a good book while sitting under a Wisteria vine.

Maybe, if the Wisteria is far enough from the house, and is "trained" to only cover the pergola it will be fine. "No Wisteria.", the voice says firmly.

(shudder) I am going to have to think hard about the Wisteria.

Just a few things to think on for today while I move some large rocks into the perennial garden. I have to take the wheelbarrow for a ride in the truck since its tire is flat. Happened all of a sudden. Last time I filled that tire was in 2004.

I guess it's due. "Duh.", said the voice.

So, my plans are done. I did them right here, no paper required. Natural stone patio with a raised fire pit, a pergola, some plantings around the perimeter, all in a natural shape extending into the backyard. Sounds nice. A little guidance from "The Voice" was all it took.

Mary and I do a lot of things together, we enjoy that. Thank God she works out regularly, otherwise she may have a hard time getting this done before August.

Planning and inspiration is the hardest part of any project.

Now, Mary is hearing a voice from a movie, "The Water Boy".

"You can do it!".

"Sharing is fun.", said the voice.

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