Not long ago I joked with a group of people that being a builder must be comparable to being a serial killer: you can go silent for a while but that “next one” is always lurking around the backroads of your mind. Maybe the analogy isn’t really that far-fetched when you stop and think about it.
If you’re a builder, you never get over the urge to just build something. And sometimes the itch goes all the way down your arm to your hand, and you can almost feel the weight and balance of the hammer wrapped in your fingers.
I built my last project for clients several year ago but I still can’t drive by a jobsite without taking a close, long and critical look to see what’s going on. Plus, I am able to take care of my insatiable urges by working on our own internal projects and the demonstration houses we’ve presented around the country in conjunction with extraordinary builders over the past decade.
Still, because my creative juices and imagination have always been driven by responses to the landform, every piece of ground is to me like every chunk of marble must be to a sculptor: completely irresistible. And thus it is that the bluff above the river on the back end of our property slips unexpectedly into my thoughts with increasing regularity.
The first snows have already blanketed the high country. Even though we still have daily access to our projects up there, I know it is only a matter of weeks before we spend much more of our time here, left to seek our stimulation and satisfaction in these more-civilized environs. And so, the bluff keeps calling me back.
Staring down at the bends and runs of the river from above, it is easy to estimate the height of the bluff at a hundred feet. But looking out horizontally at the opposite bank, through the tops of the cottonwoods on the far shore, 60 seems more likely. Why not split the difference and imagine the vertical drop to be 80? After all, it’s just daydreaming at this point.
And from that lofty perch the mind begins to embrace the view corridors; the way the sunlight plays differently on the rushing waters from season to season. The sounds of the currents reach up and blend with the breezes in an ebb and flow that seems so deliberate, yet so natural, as if some master composer had chosen the perfect notes and chords—which is, of course, precisely the case.
That is when the images of rooflines, sturdy supports and cantilevered decks begin to appear. Concrete piers and steel beams begin to respond, and the shape of the structure starts to form mentally: The view from a certain bank of windows, the feel of the air spilling up over the top edge of the bluff, the moonlight magically reflecting off the stillness of the deep pools, the magnetism of an outdoor fire feature on a November evening, the coolness of a refreshment to compliment the warmth of the summer sun.
The value of a vessel lies in the space it creates. All the elements are present; they need only to be expertly arranged. Opportunity has teased once more. The builder is restless.