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Can You Dig It

Raising the roof

- Last modified: March 15, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Less than a month into my job at Lehigh Valley Business about two years ago, one of my first assignments was to report on the progress of the new hospital going up in Bethlehem Township for St. Luke's.

At the time, our publication was known as the Eastern Pennsylvania Business Journal, and I remember then-editor John Moore saying "wear boots, 'cause you'll probably get a little muddy. We'll get hard hats and visit the site."

Since it was late fall, I didn't think it'd be too bad, but I donned my boots, and we met up with the leaders of the construction tour.

I didn't know what to expect, but I got a kick out of wandering through the massive maze of hallways, many of which were under construction, with workers setting sheetrock, installing window panes, wiring walls and hammering away. We went up the stairs and I nodded as I passed workers in hard hats, feeling, however briefly, like I actually belonged there.

As John snapped away with his camera capturing workers on cranes in windows, I asked questions of our helpful guides, flipping through my notebook while we talked.

We got up on the roof, wandered around a bit, and -- as I'd forgotten my coat -- the late October wind whipped through my thin shirt, but I didn't care.

It always humbles me when I see a work in progress, because I know in matter of days, hours or, sometimes, even minutes, it will never again look quite the same.

I think that's what I like about construction. It shows you that progress is possible. From out of nothing, something concrete and durable can emerge, but it takes patience, skill and hard work.

It's kind of like writing, but obviously nowhere near as physical. But it makes you think about the buildings you and I sit in every day and recognize who put them together, making them a reality.

From my viewpoint on the roof that day, I saw the long stretch of Interstate 78 and across the street, the shopping mall crowded with big box stores, and the vast, rolling fields to the side still yet to be developed, if they ever do.

I'm not quite sure why, but being on rooftops gives me a sense of serenity and calm. I'm not afraid of heights, and as I looked down, I felt like a giant, or a little kid watching the sunlight bounce off the trucks paving and moving dirt, tiny figures of masons laying bricks.

Another time, during one brisk March, I went up on the rooftop of the new Weis supermarket which was recently built inForksTownship. As I snapped pictures of the sprawling, muddy tract, I felt glad to have remembered my boots and coat.

I should mention that being on rooftops brings me back to the days of my wayward youth. But that's a tale for another time.

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