Through the hunter green door, life as I knew it ran down the halls into history. Our firstborn squirmed in our arms, determined to put his feet to the wood where Washington once stood, and I’m sure he had plans for the porcelain dishes as well.

The take-me-anywhere baby days were gone…and so were my days of museum hopping and history buffing. No chance to tip-toe into the Mt. Vernon mansion dining room or hear a full sentence from the guide– a few squawks and squeals from our progeny (translatable only by his mother) plus a well-aimed scowl from an old lady on the tour, and we found ourselves marching out the door to drown our sorrows in the backyard view of the Potomac.

Still my eyes kept drifting back to the house, the cupola and the weather vane’s dove of peace flying in clear blue, the loggia giving honeysuckle a backbone to stand tall, the roof’s red and rounded cedar shingles overlapping like chain mail, and long pine boards rusticated into something reminiscent of Old World glory.

Hard workers once chiseled the boards into these beveled shapes, rolled oily paint over the raw wood, and launched buckets of fine sand at the ready surface. They had mere moments to get it right, to get the grit to stick before the paint dried for good.

And I know it is this way for me, that this sabbatical from studying museum signage and hanging on the curator’s every word, this hard work of sculpting a life is but a moment of opportunity, an open window of time to get it right. I look ahead past the momentary drudgery and see the lengths fitted together, handsome as sandstone and ready for weather.