His hands stretch the tape measure across the board in a measured grace, marking the next cut with V-shaped ticks. They move swiftly only in the sense that it takes no extra time in the doing. I marvel at the carpenter's control, and wonder if I will ever possess the same technique in this chess game of wood and nails.
I would ask how, or why, or attempt to probe the technique through words, yet I already know the carpenter will use none. He never teaches, never gives advice, never utters phrases you would expect.
"Measure twice, cut once, son," he doesn't say, and never adds, "These here tick marks, done right, let you know which side to cut on, 'cause the saw blade takes out an eighth of an inch from your measure, you see."
None of that for this carpenter, the mountain carpenter, whose hands can build a house, affix porches and wall up bedrooms, plumb and run wires, add barns and hang doors. Hands leathered by time into tools you cannot replace with any trip to Lowe's hammer life into place. They move with seemingly independent thought, running on lonely instinct like deep sea creatures reacting to light. Except, out here, along the back roads, it's the need to survive, the want to live within meager means, that has evolved into stimuli.
I watch again as he assesses the joist spaces, which differ by fractions of an inch. His thoughts aren't visible on his worn face. He's done this before, and so doesn't spare much thought on how. I think he's working two problems at once, already plotting the next step in our game - the boards we cut to replace the rotted ones in the subfloor cannot reach higher than the threshold, otherwise we won't have room for the new door. For a second, I wonder how I know this? I did not train, took no classes, studied no documents or heard step-by-step lessons. The carpenter does not speak instructions. He shows. And I have watched.
That is enough, I suppose, to impart the logic of our game. A simpler way to learn. Taken in whole, the job now seems so simple. Its patterns were laid out. We simply followed some unseen order, established by the universe, by some fluttering of butterfly's wings somewhere. Has the carpenter found the elusive equation? Has he unified all forces and energy? Can he, does he, travel some Higgs field? Maybe that explains why he does not, cannot speak his lessons.
Later that night, with our door hung and shims wedged until all is level, I latch it shut, gather the last tools off the porch. The grass is wet as I walk them back around to the garage and Venus is setting in the west. The brighter stars begin to show. I stop to look at Deneb and Altair, Vega, even Antares. I wonder if, no when, we reach them, when we break the next barrier, will a carpenter be among those first explorers? I hope so, and look away from the darkening sky with a smile.
I wonder not what it will be like, but what thoughts, forged in shade breaks among the stars, will then entreat the carpenter's mind to action?
#morning words, first draft, maybe first chapter of something, just happy to get back into creative mode