The Box

It was an idyllic day on Grout pond last week. The weather had finally climbed out of the 50’s, the sun was shining, and the wind was at a minimum in the high valley between Stratton mountain and Mount Snow.

I took my board out and went to the far side of the pond to my favorite cove, anchored to a lily pad (paddle boarding secret revealed), and soaked up some vitamin D and some much-needed alone time.

Then the wind picked up. I’m not talking about a gentle breeze. Within seconds, the glassy deep water looked like a bay by the ocean, complete with white caps and huge waves.


Some people are shocked when they hear about the storm cells up there, cells so big that they rip up huge rooted trees and twist the trunks like Twizzlers, but after witnessing a water spout last year on a perfectly clear day and also seeing the destruction from a previous storm cell, nothing surprises me there. I know the weather can change in an instant. I waited it out for a bit, hoping the gusts would subside. They didn’t.

I sighed. It was going to be a long paddle back directly into that wind.

Staying close to shore, I tried to make my way back. It wasn’t fun, and it wasn’t pretty. The benefits of an inflatable paddle board is being able to take it anywhere easily, but since it sits above the water instead of partially in the water like a hard board, it’s a lot harder to paddle when water isn’t calm. I had to keep hunkering down in the wooded sites along the pond to take breathers and watch for small breaks in the wind, at which point I’d get back on the water. At one point, I grabbed my gear and trekked through the woods a half mile, mud squishing between my bare toes, knowing I wouldn’t get around the one peninsula without capsizing. Giving up and walking the trail with my board was a first.

After that tricky spot, I went back on the water. By the time I sailed back into the quiet cove where the beach and launch point were, I was frustrated and exhausted. The water in that sheltered area was calm, and I breathed a sigh of relief as I got close to the beach.

Two kids no more than seven years old were standing on the shore, watching me. They had just finished canoeing with an adult, who had gone up the trail to load up the canoe while the kids were collecting the rest of the gear.

I listened to their exchange as I paddled in.

“I wish we could canoe every day,” the boy said wistfully.

“Me, too,” chimed the girl. “I want a green canoe someday. Wouldn’t it be cool to own our very own canoe?”

“Yeah,” the boy said. “I want a green canoe, too. Then I could do this every day.”

“So why don’t we get married when we get older? Then we can buy a green canoe!”

The boy glanced in my direction and then back at the girl. “Ew.”

“But we’re already best friends!” she shrieked as they ran up the trail and disappeared into the woods.

This exchange had me smiling for the rest of the day. It was witnessing that precious moment that was remembered, not so much the struggle to get back to the beach…although pulled muscles in my back for the next few days made it hard to forget the adventure.


Building this custom box was a challenge for me. The client had seen a small box in a store, but it wasn’t the size that she wanted/needed for her living room, so I was commissioned to create it.

For some reason, I spent too much time staring at the pile of wainscoting, hoping the idea would materialize as a result. I had a picture to refer to, but it still wasn’t coming to me.  These are the pieces that usually teach me huge life lessons, and I knew I just needed to get over the mental hurdle blocking my productivity, whatever that was. Because I sure as heck couldn’t figure out what was stopping me.

Figuring that the frame was my hurdle, I got started on that. The frame was made out of pallet timber and plywood.


Once that was done, it was like coming out of the rough waters and sailing into the calm cove.

The wainscoting was painted with a rough coat of ivory paint and then washed with a stain. The stain settles into the area that the paint hasn’t, giving it a distressed look.  The box was almost 3′ by 3′ – massive.

The hardware is a vintage faucet handle.


When the piece was placed in the client’s living room, fitting in with their decor like a glove, I wasn’t focusing on the struggle to get to that point. I just remember their smiles and gratitude, and how important that whole lesson was for me.

Refinement is good. And necessary.

The easy thing would have been to skip Grout. But then I would have never heard that conversation. Or learned a valuable lesson in humility; I’m not invincible on that pond. Or remembered that most struggles are worth it, even if we don’t realize it until we come out on the other side.

And I really hope that, when that little girl from the beach grows up, she marries her best friend. What a beautiful thing for a child that age to already know the importance of that.




About Mel

My name is Mel, and I spend my time living, working and playing on the east coast. I'm a reclaimed wood artist who loves to continually find ways to repurpose wood and give it new life. "Nature Calls: Reclaimed Wood Designs" is my business dedicated to doing that! Thanks for stopping by!
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2 Responses to The Box

  1. CJ says:

    Your spirit of adventure never cases to amaze me. What a nice story! The box is beautiful.

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