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 laptop 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 from his workshop, a sprinkling of sawdust icing his hair. Ned grinned and twitched 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 my husband 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. What do you think?”  

I was speechless; there in the window was a home for Mr. Sandman!

Ned had opened the old hopper window at the top of the basement wall and, using a carabiner, secured the heavy window pane to a beam in the ceiling. He carefully inserted the dower box into the window opening; it was a perfect fit! Ned had sawed a doorway facing outside; a piece of an old rubber car mat with vertical cuts served as the front door curtain. A carpet remnant covered the wood floor of the box and a soft baby blanket provided a cozy nook in the corner. Ned had removed the back of the dower box and reattached it with hinges on one side and a latch on the other, giving us easy access to the box. A peephole drilled into the back panel allowed us to peek inside to make sure all was well. Ned had anchored the box to the wall with several short, sturdy bungee ties. There was even a small safety heater attached to the ‘ceiling’ of the box. He had thought of everything!

Giving me a wink, Ned opened the latch on the back panel, slid in a small plate of cat food and secured the latch. 

“Oh, my soulful, sensitive man!” I exclaimed, hugging my husband tightly. 

It snowed lightly that night and there were paw prints leading to the dower box. Ned and I exchanged looks and raced downstairs as quietly as possible. We tiptoed to the box and peeked through the peephole. A sleepy and very contented Mr. Sandman had found his way home. 

NAR © 2019

The old hopper window

Reposted for One-Word Challenge#FOWCworkshop

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