One of the opening quotes in William Cronon’s Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England (New York: Hill and Wang, 1983 & 2003) is from George Perkins Marsh, Man and Nature (1864), and it says,
…As we have seen, man has reacted upon organized and inorganic nature, and thereby modified, if not determined, the material structure of his earthly home.
Thank you Mr. Marsh.
Earlier this evening I thought about Cronon’s book when I decided to organize and
determine the organic and material structure of my earthly flat. From Home Depot I picked up a couple cedar 2″x6″ and 5/4″x6″ pieces of lumber, and set to building some free-standing shelves to help plants capture the sun in the vertical, south-facing windows. This is preparation, I figure, for the eventual onslaught of a northern Great Plains winter. The thing with enjoying winters when one is not too far south of the Yukon is to simply keep busy, and keep moving.
Since it was drizzling rain outside on this cool October evening, and since water is an excellent conduit for electricity, I decided to bring the back patio wood shop into the kitchen. While Jack and Meg White belted out Seven Nation Army on the iPod and logic desktop speakers, I imagined what my very polite apartment neighbors may have thought every time the saw screeched to life at around 7:15PM — I had a back up plan, though, ready to invite them in for a cola or beer to show off my new cedar shelf idea should they come knocking. I could even offer to build them one if necessary: it’s important to be neighborly, and important for many reasons.
Without making this too tedious of a blog entry, I simply cut the cedar into proper lengths to fit the bathroom window. I secured the legs to the walls with those little plastic anchors and simple screws, and capped the legs with horizontal 2x6s. It now smells like a cedar-lined sauna in there with hints of earthiness from the terra-cotta potters. The basil plants will be able to capture the sun all winter long. The tentative plan is to get rosemary in there as well.