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Posted: February 5, 2013 5:37 p.m.

Travis: A ‘folk artist of architecture’

I walked down my back steps last week and saw a daffodil blooming. I know that in itself is not unusual. What makes it unusual is that it was blooming in the bed of my husband’s pickup truck.

He is a scavenger. If you have left something on the side of the road and it piqued his interest (or didn’t pique), he was likely to have picked it up and put it in the back of his truck. I am certain he was driving down the road and saw a pot or planter someone had dumped on the side of the road and decided he might be able to use it. He stopped, picked it up, threw it in the back of his truck and promptly forgot about it. The planter eventually turned over spilling its dirt and lone daffodil bulb. Left to its own devices in the bed of the pickup truck and nourished by the spilled dirt, that flower bloomed.

He is the ultimate recycler. In the last three or four years at different times, my washing machine and dryer have died. No problem. He replaced them with appliances he has stashed in one barn or another. At our age, most people are divesting themselves of stuff. Not us. I keep telling him we need to have a yard sale where if you buy one, you have to take one free. He shudders at that thought.

He has a small cabin on a pond that he has over time renovated and added to. Almost all of the material he has used in that cabin he has scavenged and reused. The floor is the floor from the bowling alley that once was south of what is now Walgreens. He was riding by when they were throwing the nice wooden bowling alley floor out, and he decided he could put it to some use. He had to cut it up to get it in his truck and make several trips. But he collected it, with permission, and found a use for that floor.

The ceiling of the cabin is gabled and completely covered with old doors. He also used old doors sideways around the bottom of the walls to create a wainscoting affect. You have to wonder where he found all those doors and how he stored them so long. I shudder to think how many stockpiles he has in Newton County.

The kitchen counter tops are recycled slate from the top of a broken pool table. Several of the windows were donated to him by people who were remodeling as was the sink. The tile on the bathroom floor was left over from some tiling that my daughter had done in her house.

The cabinets and the parts of the walls that are not doors are lumber from trees he cut down on the property and had rough milled. Some of the pieces are rounded and still have bark on them.

My husband is a folk artist of architecture. He added on a porch and then used an old metal base of a fire pit to create a pond for his goldfish. He even installed a very small fountain to aerate it. The whole apparatus is sunk in the floor of the porch. One side of the porch is fitted with what was a plate glass window intended for use in a car crash of sorts in one of the TV series filmed here. The shot was gotten in one take so the second window was not needed. The porch itself is decorated with someone’s discarded white Christmas tree lights.

The landscape around the cabin is dotted with old outdoor furniture scavenged from who knows where. Let’s see, two picnic tables with attached benches, a concrete bench, at least two old metal gliders (maybe more), a wooden bench that someone backed into and demolished but is still there, another fire pit that is actually used for its original purpose, a shed which covers various cooking apparatus (also decorated with colored lights), metal chairs (some peeling, some not), a fan that will mist you when it is hot, an old bathtub and much more are among the items which he has on display on the land around the cabin.

And I haven’t even gotten into his decorations. That is a story for another day.

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Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at ptravis@covnews.com.

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