When you are working on a job around the house or in the garden, are you like me in that your mind wanders to dreams of worlds to be conquered or occasional regrets about paths not taken? I had never thought about what might occupy the minds of others as they tackle home projects until I met Steve Haggerty who makes a living of it as a contractor. In his case, thoughts on the job feed his passion as a poet and writer.
Traveling along a road on the way to a job, he might see a fog settling over a field with a cows and, rather than worry that the mist might slow his arrival at the work site, he makes a mental note of how the scene might fit into his writing later in the day. He observes the will of a blade of grass struggling through a crack in concrete and makes another notation, perhaps this time in a notebook, his constant companion, which shares its observations of nature with needed supplies at the hardware store.
Normally when homeowners contract for a job, they expect a service provider to show up who is good at what he or she does, and would hope for some skill to accompany the assignment at hand. They probably would not look beyond that expectation to an entire realm of artistry.
Early on I learned that real estate is a fascinating field because all of us in the industry have done “something else” and have brought another skill set to our profession. In Haggerty’s case, he was an editor on a trade publication dealing with the building industry. When he was 29, he decided to leave that position to work with his hands so that he could “clear his mind” for the creative process of writing, and he chose to work in the field he had written about.
The result of that decision, his book Cows in the Fog and Other Poems and Stories, is being published as this column goes to press.
Haggerty was surrounded by creative expression growing up. His father Richard Haggerty worked with genius composer Richard Rodgers of musical theatre fame with credits as impressive as Oklahoma! and Carousel on stage and Victory at Sea on television. His neighbors when he vacationed in Vermont were poet Robert Frost and artist Normal Rockwell, not the sort of knock-around friends you would expect from a contractor who would come to paint your house or build an addition.
Leafing through an advance copy of his book, I felt compelled to ask Haggerty about how that thought process translated into the implementation of his work with his hands. “Thinking like a poet has developed in me a sense of rhythm when I work,” he responded. “It’s not necessarily the best way to rush into a job with the goal of just getting it done as quickly as you can. Sometimes it’s best to do some things more steadfastly, to slow down, to get the job done in a better way.” Maybe not all homeowners would like to hear that a job would be done in a certain rhythm that might take longer, but as for me, I’d take that route anytime.
As I consider the projects I have harbored in my mind for my beloved Ebenezer White House – the reconstruction of a front porch that graced my home from the 1830s to the 1950s and will now reappear as enclosed office space; a glass solarium overlooking my garden and pool, with a spa and gym above, along with another bath and a laundry room – I ask Steve, would he be interested in looking at the plans when they finally arrive from my architect and signing on as my contractor?
But I extract a promise from him: At the end of each day, will he share with me the thoughts that pop into his head as he wends his way through the project? Isn’t that part of the creative process, after all?
My plan would be to take his notes, create a small sketch book and keep it along with the architectural plans to leave with the house as the poetry the project inspired. How creative an idea is that?
Steve Haggerty’s book Cows in the Fog and Other Poems and Stories can be found at Amazon.com or at his website: www.sthaggerty.com. For hands-on contract work with a creative twist, Haggerty can be reached directly at 845-319-6213.
Bill Primavera,“The Home Guru”Realtor,® is associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester (www.PrimaveraPR.com), specializing in lifestyles, real estate and development. His real estate site is: www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com and his blog is: www.TheHomeGuru.com. To engage the services of The Home Guru Team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.