There’s a door about four feet tall in our upstairs hallway. The perfect size for a kid, and a step-down and ducked head for me. It opens up into the attic, an unfinished space above the livingroom.
Ever since the first time I was inside our house, I found that door magical. It’s obviously not big enough for an adult to use without ducking, but it also made access to the room easy. Which makes me think the room was used for more than just an attic.
I’ve heard that many old houses had such spaces. They’d be used as extra bedroom (as uncomfortable at that would have been in the heat and cold) and to dry plants such as herbs. And I imagine they had other uses that I’m not familiar with.
It was a gorgeous fall day and I so wanted to be doing something outside. But the gardens are not yet ready to be cut and put to bed for the winter and it turned out to be the perfect day to be in the attic too.
Not too hot or too cold, the uninsulated attic temperature was just right.
And the attic needed a cleaning.
So I spent my day, sorting and tidying and throwing things out. I made a pile of things for Goodwill, brought some things to the barn to burn in our Solstice Fire, organized the things to keep, swept the loose insulation mouse and bat droppings from the floor and washed the windows.
When I was done, I walked around the attic to see what I could see.
I’m always looking for something I haven’t seen before. Maybe and initial scratched into a beam or an old coin that rolled between the floorboards.
I once again inspected the old rope strung between the rafters, imagining the drying herbs hanging from it.
I touched the cedar shake visible between the uneven roof boards, some still with bark on them. They were the first layer of the roof before the slate was put over them.
I marveled at how square the hand-hewn beams are, how they are notched together and pegged. (probably chestnut or oak) And I leave the old hanger and chain hanging from the nails where they’ve been for so many years.
Someday, I think, I’ll replace the dirty old fiberglass insulation that is only on the wall between the attic and the inside of the house. Birds and mice nest in it and every time I go in the attic a little more of it is on the floor.
I leave the attic feeling better about it than when I went in.
The floor is swept and I threw old sheets over the airconditioners and suitcases knowing that the next time I go there they’ll behave a layer of dust and dirt on them. In the middle of the floor, will be the beginnings of two small piles of bat guano.
I didn’t find anything in the attic I haven’t seen before. But that doesn’t mean something else isn’t there.
For now, just being able to see some of the bones of the house, a reminder that the place where I live really is made of trees, is enough.