My friend Akka and I have been going for regular walks along the Humber river. How I love these walks! What glorious things we see!
Just the other day, we saw a flock of male cardinals. There must have been eight at least, flitting here and there, landing in bushes, balancing on thin stalks of winter-browned goldenrod.
As we stared at the birds, a fox appeared on the hill behind the trees, picking her way along the ridge. Other walkers passed by, submersed in conversation. They didn’t see the fox as she stepped through the snow, eventually selecting a small tuft of grass to sit on as she watched life go by. How magical she was, her red fur and black stockings shining against the mantle of snow.
After several minutes observing the fox, Akka and I turned to each other in wonder. This is the city! Nature is right here, on our doorstep. And it if we only give her a chance, she will forgive us and find a way to thrive.
We now have a floor in our cabin. A real floor, not just the plywood subfloor we’ve been living with for over two years.
We didn’t think it would happen so quickly, because the floor we thought we wanted was so expensive. But our idea of what constitutes a floor changed on a moment’s notice.
We were at the Cassel lumberyard and discovered a new shipment of ten inch roofing boards. They were luminous and clean and oh-so-lovely. Normally roofing boards are quite scrubby as they’re not for show; they’re used for board and batten siding and, well, roofing, of course. But these boards were special.
Kneeling next to the stack, I looked at my husband and knew he was thinking exactly what I was thinking: For a fraction of the cost, we could install these boards and have a wide-plank pine floor instantly.
So we picked out the ones we liked. We had lots to choose from as it was a fresh shipment and no one had had the chance to pick through the pile. We paid the $20 delivery fee, then raced back to the cabin to await the truck. Once delivered, we stacked them in the cabin to acclimate.
Back in the city, Brian discovered hand-forged nails at Lee Valley. They’re made by the same company that has been making the nails since the 1800’s. The nails are gorgeous! Shiny and black with big square heads. We bought 14 pounds, thinking we’d need them all, and eagerly waited for our next opportunity to got north.
Finally, earlier this month, we secured an entire week to install the floor. We took our time, stepping over piles of lumber, the pile slowly diminishing with each board we installed. We used quarters to space the boards, and a bow jack from Lee Valley to straighten them. We only worked in daylight, stopping once the sun got low to make dinner and relax over a game of scrabble.
As the week progressed, we discussed whether or not to stain the boards. We wondered how a dark floor would look, a traditional pine stain, a cherry stain. We weighed the pros and cons. But once we saw how lovely the pine boards looked, we decided against stain altogether, choosing to oil the wood with an all natural hemp seed oil instead. We’re so happy with our decision!
All along, we have used green products in the building of the cabin. The decision to forgo stain saved us tons of money and we didn’t have to breathe chemicals for months as the stain set.
We’re going to allow the boards to age naturally, re-oiling them in the spring and once a year thereafter. Eventually, they’ll mellow to that lovely deep orange pine is famous for. The boards will crack. Some knots may pop from their holes. But that will only add character to an already beautiful floor.