Made for the Shade

Hot and dry is more tolerable than hot and humid. I know for certain since I’ve experienced both. Here in the high desert we can hang out in the shade and feel, well, a little cooler. Ah, but shade is a rare commodity at our home.

Early morning the Adirondack chairs near the front door are shielded from the sun long enough so we can enjoy a couple of cups of coffee. But that doesn’t last. The same goes for the portal — porch — off the back door. There were no trees on this building lot we bought, just scrubby sagebrush. 
And so, the ramada project is under way. 


Ramada is Spanish for branch, which is the typical material used to build an open shelter for shade. I’ve seen many ramadas in Northern New Mexico built that way. But for Hank branches wouldn’t do. He had to use lumber. The design is what you’d expect of a cabinetmaker and furniture builder from New England. A sixteenth of an inch off is unacceptable to my husband.
The plans were his own although not surprising, he redrew them several times over the winter and spring. The ramada is 10 by 10 with a pergola entrance.

First, Hank used hand tools to dig ten holes three feet down through clay soil, now the consistency of adobe because of the drought. The holes were for the uprights of laminated pressure-treated wood. Concrete mixed in the wheelbarrow got thrown in the holes as well.

Thankfully, our youngest son Zack — that’s him above — timed a visit last week to help his father. The two of them made huge progress in just a few days on the framework. And that got me off the hook for this project.
Since Zack left Monday, Hank works during the cooler part of the day, staying with it until after eight. Wednesday when I

came home from work I saw he nailed sagebrush to the gable ends. If this were New England he would have used hemlock branches.

He nailed boards over the rafters instead of a plywood sheathing. The metal roofing is expected next week.

Meanwhile Hank will build a Japanese-style lattice to cover at least one end. We will be able to view the Sangre de Cristo mountains and the sage-filled mesa through the open sides. When it’s done, the ramada will compliment the design of the back portal and the gate for the fenced-in yard. Eventually, we will use sandstone for the ramada’s floor. As a temporary fix I will haul pea stone in my wheelbarrow.
I envision sitting in the ramada, reading, writing, eating good food,  talking with Hank and our visitors, and enjoying the shade.