Monday, October 20, 2008
forest of mushrooms
Last Saturday, on a rare occasion, I went for a walk in the forest. I noticed lots of mushrooms. There were mushrooms on every tree stump. Living trees with mushrooms growing out of the stumps where branches have been cut off. I don't remember ever seeing anything like that before. Even a living hollow tree with mushrooms growing inside the hollow.
This Saturday, I didn't have time to do anything fun. Not only had my kitchen sink suddenly decided this was the perfect moment to get blocked to the point of not letting a single drop of water get through, I had also planned to start demolition of my shed/varanda/porch. It was in great need of attention. The previous owners of this house had the brilliant idea (I would not advise anyone to follow their example) of constructing it from a concrete plate supported by wood. To support this block of concrete, which must roughly weigh a ton, they chose wood of the type we call "blow-in-the-wind". To finish it, they put a handrail on top of the concrete, also made of wood, of which the supports are embedded in the concrete, penetrating it all the way through.
A year after I moved in, one of the neighbours alerted me to the fact that this was not a sensible construction. I examined it and found that one of the major support beams had started to rot. The superkids father came to the rescue and temporarily placed some scaffold supports under the beams, and I felt safe for the moment.
But I neglected to check the handrail supports and to give imortance to the fact that they also had begun to rot. It now appears they had started to function as a drain allowing rain water to flow straight through the concrete into the seams of the wooden construction underneath.
This summer, we've had exceptionally high temperatures and enormous floods of rain.
The wood had visibly suffered. How much, became evident after I decided that to stop further rot the best thing would be to strip off the boards covering the face of the construction. Stripping everything would at least allow the open air to dry the wood where the water had penetrated, and prevent it from further suffocating.
I had never imagined wood could rot this fast. We could pull the boards off with our bare hands. Underneath the thin layer of paint which was still intact, there was a moist grainy pulp, black as earth, infested with small insects and slugs. I amost expected to find earthworms there, but earthworms probably don't climb.
Some scaffold supports later and some rubbish lighter I thought my Saturday had been pretty adventurous. But during all this, the Superkid was totally preoccupied with more important matters.