I went up to The Summer House last weekend to clear it of all the flood-drenched items – furniture, linen, bedding, books, chattel in general.
The trip up there was devastatingly beautiful. Sunshine, blue skies and a scattering of clouds – and birds as in the picture below.
When I arrived the neighbours were already busy, clearing their house of everything that had been in it. The sight of their house’s content piled up on the still-flooded lawn was rather abysmal and disheartening, but that is their stuff and I won’t show you what it looked like. One’s possessions tend to look rather shabby when drenched with fjord water and piled up on a flooded lawn – there were numerous cases of this up and down the road.
I had a carpenter come by on Saturday and another on Sunday to make an assessment of the damage and give an estimate of the works needed. The floors needed to go, so the first carpenter did some exploratory cuts to see what was underneath. Not surprisingly there was soaking wet insulation, another layer of wet wood and then a puddle on the ground underneath the floor.
The main part of the house – the sitting room and the kitchen – is in the oldest structure of the house, and that’s basically a log cabin, only with very narrow logs, so it has been insulated externally with Styrofoam and an external wood cladding. The insulation and the cladding might have to go – apart from anything because Styrofoam is highly flammable – but the main structure remains healthy and with moderate moisture measurements, considering the circumstances. 2′ up the wall the moisture levels are at 25% relative humidity which is not far from what you’d find in a healthy unheated wooded cabin in winter.
It was sad, though, to clear the house for all non-salvageable items. Like books… At the bottom of the pile to the left is a small collection of Astérix and Lucky Luke comics I bought while I lived in Paris. At the top to the left is the cookery book that my aunt gave me when I tuned 18 as a “get out of your parents’ home” present – hence the 10 months in Paris… And then there’s Mrs. Beeton on the lower right; I bought her myself, but I’ve loved her dearly.
And then there’s everything else. The entire “previously covered terrace” is full of furniture and other wet stuff, and then there’s a large pile on top of our double bed, standing in the watery lawn. And there’s another pile behind the house. It really does look like so much junk piled high, but when it was dry it was the trappings of a holiday home. Still, it is replaceable stuff, and for some absurd reason I’m thrilled that the dart board we’ve never used has died in the flood whereas out croquet set, Viking game and petanque boules have all survived.
So there. Much is lost, and to be frank I’ve had a rather miserable weekend emptying the house and the annex. And yes, it’s taking it’s toll on me, but I’m pulling through. The house is safe if I just stay cool and get things done. And I will get things done.
Tonight, though, I will enjoy the fact that there is nothing I can do right now. And I will indulge myself in a bout of misery and feel really sad about our poor little house that we love so much. It will survive, no matter what I have to do, but it has taken quite a beating and it can still make me cry now, nearly 1½ weeks after the flooding happened.
It might be just a house, but it’s MY house. And NOBODY messes with my house! If I have to tear out the floor myself, I’ll do it. I will do whatever it takes. It hurts so much to see it like this, and the only comfort is that some day in spring I will go up there to spend a weekend in a lovely, healthy house. Even if I might have to camp out on the floor the first couple of weekends.