The sun was just starting to melt away the early morning chill as we turned down the steep mountainside driveway sprinkled with gravel. We parked our three white trucks all lined up in a row. All three counties’ housing crews had found themselves short-handed that day, so we gathered as one – Jackson, McCreary, and Rockcastle – to build a deck together.
I soon discovered that this was not going to be the typical deck that I was used to building. Rail-free and shaking in its posts, the pre-existing deck stood above my head, as the earth rapidly descended from the side of the trailer. Our first task before building a new one would be, of course, to tear this one down.
It came down with a limited fight. Most of its feet, after all, were not actually planted in the ground. We piled the aging boards to the side and prepared to put in the new.
Ahh, the joys of posthole digging and making it square.
Is that board heavy? Well, it’s a good thing that we have more than one shoulder to prop it up on.
Missing some materials? Well, it’s a good thing that we have enough people that someone can run to the hardware store while the rest of us keep working.
As we progressed with our morning work, two little blonde-headed boys emerged from the house. They stood in silence and watched us. The youngest soon went back into the house, but his older brother stuck around, pulling a wagon behind him. The wheel fell off at one point, and he took out his housing repair tools (a hammer, good for many uses), flipped the wagon, and displayed his own repair skills. When prompted for his name by more than one of us, he just smiled and shook his head. I smiled to myself and let him be. I, after all, had been a quiet observer once upon a time.
We all gathered and sat beneath the shade, chatting over bologna sandwiches, cold leftovers, and protein shakes. A crunch coming from the carport revealed our blonde-headed little friend, stepping quietly up behind us to listen to our talk.
Jamie (the Rockcastle crew leader) asked him his name again, giving him several different options.
“Is your name Joseph? Jeremy? John? James?”
The little boy smiled and shook his head to each.
We went back to work, but this time, he joined us. And he slowly started to talk.
He has his own hard hat, and his own hammer, and he put them to work. His name is David. Janean helped him up onto the tall new deck floor that we had put together and he helped us put up the railing, handing new spindles to us and manning the level.
3:30 rolled around, which marked the arrival of the school bus. Three more blonde-headed boys jumped off of it, and came around to the back of the house to check things out. Soon, they took an interest in helping out too, trading off with the spindle duties and fetching batteries. I found myself quite surrounded by a gaggle of youthful helpers.
The decking built, the stairs put in, and the railing 3/4 of the way finished, the day came to an end. There’s a lot that three counties and five pairs of little hands can get done.
I guess what they say is true:
Many hands really do make light work.