The Way I See it: an old dock gets new life

Thanks to her husband's enthusiastic handyman skills, Michele Blais is enjoying her 'new dock' at her lakefront cabin

Our dock at the lake is old, tilts, and has seen many, many summers. I suppose we will be like it someday, old and tippy, and have seen many warm days.

The majority of the boards are faded gray, worn, and have never seen or felt an ounce of stain. The dock is about five feet wide and stretches out to about 45 feet, far enough that when the lake is high enough we can dive off off it. Diving into the clear Okanagan water is a favourite summer pastime.

My darling loves this dock and is determined to keep it together. This year when we arrived in early spring to find it tilting and underwater I thought for sure this was the year to have it taken away and get a new one. All shiny new with Trex boards that won’t ever need staining and won’t break off and cause splinters. I even priced out a new dock.

Not to be.

The collection of old wood that he has been stashing at the side of the cabin has been sorted through and sized up for their value in this project. And a project it is. He is recycling old wood, bolts, screws, and even rocks. It is an odd looking dock from the side but it is a labour of love.

He searches out lag bolts, and has decided a two-handle post banger, (my word) is better than a sledge hammer. He recruits any one standing close by to help him patiently work through each improvement and does play-by-play through the whole process.

My own tolerance for remaking, reusing and odd shapes is higher at the cottage than it is at our home in town. Although I do recycle and redo lots of furniture, old doors and windows, perhaps wood for mantels or art, but not for foundation or core needs of our house. At the little blue house on the lake shore it’s a different story.

Here we can experiment and our fathers would be proud. Both of them being farmers who could reuse a piece of wire in 40 different ways would be pleased to see how my darling is rebuilding the dock and extending its life.

We have a newer floating dock at the end of it where we spend numerous hours enjoying the lake and its beautiful views unobstructed from our extended perch. It is a nice 16’ X 16’ square of treated wood and floaties. The original dock and walkway is a mixture of this and that and the stone cages for support.

It is the old one that carries us to the new one, and we stand at the end of it to look for weather changes, or size up the day, or climb out of the water.  We have replaced lots of the boards and some are lined up evenly with the next and same size, some are not. Screws would have been better than nails, and almost level is apparently good enough.

The dock clearly makes a statement that it is OK to not be perfect and still be beneficial. Many of  our lakeside neighbours have beautiful docks that are streamlined, solid, straight and our little one stands proud among them.  Like the homeowners who proudly walk its planks, we are far from perfect, have regrouped many times and keep trying.

My darling’s determination and pleasure for working on the dock with his odd assortment of resources is amusing and also pleasing as he is determined to keep it standing and useful far beyond its prime.

There is joy in working with your hands, repairing and lengthening the usefulness of our belongings, whether docks, bicycles, furniture, cars, houses. We can sometimes be quick to throw something away in our disposable world that still has value and with time and effort can continue to be useful.

Our dock: old, weathered, beautiful.

Michele Blais is a longtime columnist for The Morning Star, appearing every other Sunday.