In Praise of the Garage

By J. Smith



It comes back to life in the spring.  Its rebirth occurs along with the beasts and blossoms, emerging from a long winter nap of storage and neglect.

Gasoline and used motor oil waft from shadowed corners, tiptoe into my nostrils and twirl in an olfactory dance.  Cat litter scattered to and fro, haphazardly tossed wherever dark spots mar the concrete.  Tools, some hanging on pegboard, others lying where put to rest on the workbench, adorn careworn surfaces.  A car or two or three in repose, recovering from the worries of the road, in dignified decomposition.  Metallic clinking and clinking and curses variously heard, the sound waves refracting between canyons formed of beer bottles, stacks of parts and repair manuals.

The whir of the drill and the agony cry of the metal through which it bores pierce the air as silver shards dart from the spinning bit.  The clash of the grinder, sharpening and shaping in the glimmer of a downpour of sparks, rises above the tumult.  The sweltering breath of June, July, August smothers, the four walls groaning in solar agony, as I lay in crushed bits of clay, blackened water of the rock dripping to a syncopated beat on my sweat laden forehead.

Place the jack stands a little to the right.  Rotate the tires, torque the lugs.  A thin, evenly applied layer seals the gasket.  Top the SUs with 20 weight.  Pull the plugs, check the gap.  Adjust the tappets.  And where’s the damn Haynes Manual?

Dawn melts into afternoon melts into evening.  A brown ale or a crisp lager serves as the day’s reward.

And so ends another summer Saturday.  And the next.

But each morning finds the sun rising minutes later.  Setting minutes earlier.  Dew turns to frost.  Trees of green burst into autumnal flame and fade to brown, piling here and there.  Ice and snow return.  The tools lie idle.  The car rests.  And waits.  And I silently sing praises to the cement pad, girded by wood and metal and glass and plastic and wait for the spring.

Then we’ll begin again.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved

Author: J.S. Smith

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  1. I love being in my garage for multiple reasons. The old television where I can watch a game, the fact that my wife, three kids and my mother-in-law who all live with me don’t go in there, and the BMW 635 CSI that I’m putting back together is there.

    No telling what would happen if I didn’t have that garage.

  2. It’s a summer fortress of solitude for me. Although I don’t get much actual solitude, but there is a meditative aspect to car repair, restoration and maintenance.

    Of course, in the winter, it’s a sub-zero deep freeze, but that’s Michigan. Perhaps I need a heating system . . .

  3. My garage right now is just a garage. It’s connected to my house and not heated, though it never dips below freezing in the winter.

    My parents have a “kick ass” garage. When they bought their then-ranch house in the early 1970s, it had no garage, so my dad had one built. That one was a two-car particle board/aluminum siding deal that was big enough to park cars in but too small to work on them in (intentionally).

    Over 20 years later, he had that one torn down and had a fortress built in its place. 3 1/2 cars, floor heat (there is a maze of pipes built into the concrete circulating anti-freeze, which itself is heated by an oil furnace), cable TV, phone, attic, etc. It’s also built of brick to match their house and is quite the structure. I’d spend a lot of time in his garage if it was on my property.

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