My downstream neighbor brought his tractor up the hill to Wilderstead today and helped me finish digging out the undercroft site. This project has been "in progress" for over three years now. I started laying the upper retaining wall in September, 2010 (the drainage pipes that go under the walls were done some time before that). Serious excavation started in May, 2012, when Mitch, Jeffrey, and TJ came out to start digging out the undercroft. From that day to this, it's been me and my hand tools.
Neighbor used the bucket on his tractor to get the last shelf sticking out. He also helped spread the dirt on the roadway below the building site. This project is now done, for all intents and purposes. Come spring, I'm taking a week off and will start digging the footers for the undercroft walls. That will be backhoe work, however. I'm not going to say that my spade and wheelbarrow are retired, but I'm not going to spend another two years of days off just to dig footers.
I've been wrestling with some discouragement over the slowness of my progress on all this. Some days, it seemed like I'd never get anything built, no matter how long I put off retirement. Other days, I felt like I'd finally get the thing built and retire, only to find that all my other dreams for the holler would never get accomplished.
But this weekend, I realized that in fact God's timing is perfect. For when I'm finally ready to retire, my grandcubs will just be entering upon the golden days of their boyhoods. Which means, we'll build all those other things together. That will add immensely to their fun and enjoyment of the place. Wilderstead will be the place where they got to do things. Where they helped build the places they later played in. Where Grandbear always had time to sleep out in the woods or show them things or just let them laze around the library and read. I figure I might have ten-twelve years of good health and vigor before the ground gets too doggone cold and hard to camp out, and those would be just those years where Daniel and James will be growing up. By the time they're ready for college or marriage or the armed forces, we will have spent many days and nights together. They will be my final ministry: all I have done for my own children and for two generations of church kids and Scouts, all I have learned how to do, will be given to them. Wilderstead is my own little kingdom and they will be princes of the land.
And now, I can finally see retirement when it comes as the beginning of a new life, not merely crossing the finish line and ending this one.