She's out there, waiting. I know this time of year all too well. When my thoughts begin to turn to my avocations, my obsessions. For years now - how many has it been? Has she always been there? There must have been a time when she wasn't that angry itch, waiting for me to scratch. The seasons change and the pages of the calendar fall to the floor, but no matter how things change, she's still there to wrestle with. To mock me. To make every attempt at controlling her a laughable charade.
Her? She? What? My white whale. My albatross.
I'm talking about our front gate. No other portion of our house or yard has required so much of my attention and robbed me of so many weekends. Sagging, sticking, slanting, it's never been quite right. When we first rebuilt the front fence, the gate was one long eight foot section that opened in one wide swing. For a month or two, until the weight began to strain the hinges and the corner scraped as it needed to be dragged over the grass to force it to stay open far enough to drive the car up the driveway. For a while, there was a cable running from the post to the end to limit the droop. Every departure and each return served as a reminder of the faulty engineering I had wrought.
There was that cathartic moment when I took a circular saw to the center of it and slapped some hinges on the opposite side. Half the weight, half the problem. Which was about the time we got a dog who was as concerned as I was with the gap between the two sides. Finding a viable latch that could withstand her insistent nudging and prodding brought me a dozen years of searching hardware stores for just the right latch. It was at some point during this era that a neighbor dropped by and left me with two eight inch metal plates he had drilled especially to help me keep the lower portion of the gate from being shoved so as to subvert the closure system. And that worked for a while.
Weather and age have proved to be our collective undoing, as all that fitting and making things just so only last as long as warping and the posts holding the hinges in place stay put where they were before and after the rains came. Friends who come to our house are timid about driving inside the compound for fear of losing their side view mirrors. I could do nothing to alleviate those fears except to stand outside holding the gate back and guiding them as they ease backward out into the street, free from the worry of damage caused by that gate. Her. She. The portal to the rest of the world.
This weekend, she got some new springs. It's a new direction, and I hope that their addition will settle my mind once again as I pursue any other imaginable concern. Stamp collecting. Gardening. Ceramics. Anything that might bring me a moment's peace. Anything that might take my mind off of her.