One Brick at a Time

Letter from the editor, September/October, 2021

As the year starts to turn toward fall, I find my project ambitions only increase. Although I’m a transplant from Southern California, where my mom used to dress me in a turtleneck and jeans to play outside (it was easier than keeping sunscreen on an active child), I don’t relish the idea of moving cubic yards of gravel in the heat and humidity of a Kansas summer.

Two years ago, I collected bricks, a few dozen at a time, free of charge as other people tore up old patios or finally admitted that they’d never use the last few extras from a project. I laid them out under my newly installed clothesline to make sure I had enough for a small walkway and told myself I’d get them laid properly by the end of the year. You all know where this is going – the grass and weeds are flourishing in the spaces between the bricks, frost heaves have made for interesting hummocks to navigate with the laundry basket, and I’m once again telling myself that I’ll lay those bricks properly by the end of the year.

In the intervening time, I’ve also gathered materials to replace the wooden deck that offers a bit too much cover for rabbits and rodents. It’s going to become a brick patio as well. Doing both projects at once will justify having gravel for the bases delivered instead of hauling it bag by bag in my severely undersized car. After growing up in a family of doers and makers, I probably should’ve expected that a four-door car would struggle to keep up with me!

My parents installed a brick patio at one of our houses in California. I don’t remember how the materials got to the house, but I do know that we kids helped get the bricks from the side yard to the back by putting two at a time in our little toy trucks and racing them to Dad. Now that my back’s about the same age his was then, I can understand how helpful that must’ve been. My patio project is likely to be just me, a wheelbarrow, and a whole lot of sweat. Ideally, I’d tear down the deck right about the time you’re reading this note, so I could get right to the digging and schlepping when the heat breaks in October.

I’ll report back come January, and until then, I’d like to hear about your long-awaited projects. What are you planning, or finally accomplishing? How do you prioritize more ambitious projects, and do you prefer slow progress alone or a quick barn-raising?

See you in November,

  • Updated on Aug 11, 2021
  • Originally Published on Aug 10, 2021
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