Out Behind the Tool House
/* Originally published October 4, 2012 */
The Tool House has been a continual source of wonderment and fear. In the early years of our cabin ownership, it became a bit of a game to extract at least one odd object from the Tool House every time we made a run to the dump. But the Tool House has always been a little bit scary, going back to my childhood visits to the cabin. It’s definitely a place that makes you double check that your tetanus shots are current.
In 2012, we ventured into the Tool House, determined to clean out enough space to store the windows and siding that were that year’s project. For this job, we outfitted ourselves in long sleeves, long pants, and sturdy gloves. Safety glasses and respirators would not have been overkill, but that didn’t become apparent until later.
I have marveled at the many uses for shelf paper in the cabin, but in cleaning the Tool House, we may have found the ultimate application of shelf paper. As I pulled out a bunch of scrap wood, I noticed one plank that was probably once part of a bookshelf. It looked slightly strange, and after I brushed the dust and mice droppings off it, I realized why: this perfectly fine plank had been covered in—wait for it—wood grained shelf paper! Why cover wood with an artificial material made to look like wood? Out of curiosity, I pulled the shelf paper off, and sure enough, the wood underneath it was just fine. Clearly, shelf paper was the miracle product of the modern midcentury.
But the Tool House held other wonders of a bygone day. When we dug deep enough to find the old workbench, we of course found a dozen glass jars full of rusty nails and screws, most of which conformed to no modern standards in either the metric or American measurement systems. But there, nestled amongst former peanut butter and jelly jars, was a bottle of actual DDT.
Apparently, the Diazinon is just as toxic and offensive to the average environmentalist. We thought briefly of calling the EPA and asking how to properly dispose of these items, but we quickly concluded the neighbors wouldn’t appreciate living next to a Superfund site. And as it turns out, White Earth Sanitation has a system for disposing of hazardous materials. Later, more than one person suggested that we lost an opportunity to make some money on eBay or Craigslist, where DDT is in high demand. I’ll pass on that opportunity any day.
By the end of the afternoon, we’d filled the trailer with junk and created a great space to store our siding and windows. It will be interesting to see what the mice think of our efforts. Many mouse homes were destroyed in the reclamation of the Tool House. Hopefully, the mice can go back in the forest where they belong.