THE DOWER BOX

“Course of action for today – tackle the basement!” announced my husband Ned. “Care to join me, Jan?” 

“Why not? I’ve got writer’s block anyway” I replied glumly.

“After you, madame” said Ned, bowing extravagantly.

Seven months ago we moved into our little beach house. It’s in good condition and Ned’s handy so employing a repairman wasn’t necessary. The former owners left a few things behind; it would be nice to find a treasure or two.  After sifting through mostly junk, we decided on a floor lamp, a wine rack and a hammock. 

“Jan, look at this old dower box. Want to store your blankets in it? If not, I can use it for something.” 

“I don’t think so, hon. Looks kinda beat up to me. It’s all yours. What are your plans?” 

“Ah … you’ll see” Ned answered inscrutably.

“Ok, mystery man. I’m heading back up. Have fun!” 

Still putting off writing, I tossed the ingredients for beef stew into the slow cooker for dinner this chilly December night. Glancing out the kitchen window I caught a glimpse of Mr. Sandman, the stray cat who hangs out in the beachgrass surrounding our house. After making a pot of tea I set off to the sunroom, my blank iPad mocking me. 

By the sounds of sawing, drilling and hammering coming from the basement, Ned was having a grand time working on that beat up dower box. A couple of hours later he wandered up, his nose appreciatively sniffing the aroma enveloping the kitchen. 

“Mmm – beef stew! How’s the writing, hon.” 

“Don’t ask. Hey, guess who I saw today. Mr. Sandman.” 

“You don’t say” Ned replied. “I was thinking about him just the other day.” 

I ladled the stew into bowls while Ned sliced the freshly baked bread and poured glasses of pinot noir. “So, when can I see what you’ve been working on?” I inquired. 

Right after dinner” Ned replied. “I think it’s damn good!” 

We finished up and Ned anxiously led me downstairs. “Well, there it is. Mr. Sandman’s house!”  

I was speechless. The dower box now had a front door with a curtain of clear hefty plastic. A carpet remnant covered the floor. A hinged door with a plastic-covered peephole and latch was on the back. There was even a small safety heater attached to the ‘ceiling’. Tilting in the old hopper window at the top of the basement wall, Ned secured it to a beam with a carabiner, then carefully inserted the box into the window opening. It fit perfectly! He anchored the box with a few short bungee ties, opened the back door, slid in a saucer of cat food and latched the door shut. 

“My soulful sensitive man!” I exclaimed, hugging Ned tightly. 

It snowed lightly that night and there were paw prints leading to the dower box. Ned and I exchanged looks of surprised glee, raced downstairs as quietly as possible and peeked into the peephole. A sleepy Mr. Sandman had found his way home. 

NAR © 2019

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