The dwelling has a deck on the back and there is a story in that deck. When we bought the joint in 1989, the builder put something on the back that was called a “deck” as the patio door is four feet above grade. Without a “deck” you would step out into space and fall to the ground from enough height to ruin your day. This is the building code at work.
Needless to say the builder back then, who shall remain nameless as they are still in business, put on the smallest, cheapest, most meanly built piece of ineptly thrown-together structure he could get away with by law. There was enough room for your ass and a gallon of gas and that was about it, then down some deathtrap stairs to the back lawn, as you risked impalement on the handrail, or one of several dozen nails that stuck out at odd angles.
In 1999 we decided to take that hideous piece of ‘work’ off our house and put on a proper deck, built by yours truly and some help from good friends. The joys of a townhouse are that the back yards are small. Ours is 22 feet wide and 24 feet deep, so we made the deck cover about half the back yard, leaving an area with patio stones and some grass for our various dogs over the years to use as their local lavatory.
The deck has been the scene of hundreds of outrageous gatherings of like-minded fiends and friends, gathering for food and, of course, copious amounts of alcohol. There has been sunbathing, conversations by the thousands and a few thousand hours of just staring off into middle distance enjoying the feel of the sunshine, the sounds of birds and the gentle rustle of wind through the leaves at all hours of the day or night. The most precious times have been at ghastly hours of the earliest of the morning, as the sun was just starting to colour the sky, the moon and stars still visible and the birds barely beginning to wake with their first tentative chirps of the day.
There are also tears. It is called The Eleanor F.M. Scott Memorial Deck, named in honour of Marylou’s mother, who passed away in 1999 not long after we started work on the deck. Hidden under the deck, on the ledger against the house is that very title and the signatures of those who worked on the deck, the idea being sometime in the distant future someone would be working on the deck, find the inscription of who built it, when and Eleanor Scott’s name. A little history nugget left behind that they could pursue or ignore as they see fit.
By 2014 the deck had reached the point where it needed some serious work. Pressure-treated wood lasts for a certain amount of time; stain or paint can only save so much. We decided to rehabilitate it. Today, the contractor has stripped off the weathered and worn deck boards, revealing the underpinnings, still in excellent shape. Composite decking will go back over top, that we won’t ever have to paint, sand, stain or seal. The planters will come back up, along with the furniture, the umbrellas and lanterns. There will be several hundred more scenes of truly outrageous gatherings of like-minded fiends and friends, gathering for food and, of course, copious amounts of alcohol, laughter and general good times.
He also revealed the area where we had inscribed the following:
The Eleanor F.M. Scott Memorial Deck Built with love, July 1999 by David Smith, Marylou Scott-Smith, Rob Scrimger, Juudy Scrimger and John Fahey. Faded, yet still readable, it stamps a date and time on our efforts and the memory of Eleanor Scott.
We have appended the names of the contractors and the appropriate date of their work to the ledger board, next to the original inscription. We might even get a small brass plate inscribed to make things a little more permanent.
Whomever owns out house a couple of decades from now will find those inscriptions and wonder for a moment about Eleanor F.M. Scott.
She was my mother-in-law and is sorely missed but warmly remembered to this very day. We love you, Miss Ellie.