ABERCROMBIE, N.D. — As of July 2015, the U.S. Census counted almost 49 million retired people in the country. Retirement can look different for everyone, with some using their time to travel the world while others might even get another job.
For many, staying busy is key to enjoying a full life once they've exited the working world. For Guy Klosterman, retirement from the railroad industry in 2018 meant (possibly) more work than he was doing before.
"I told him we needed landscaping," says Guy's wife, Yvette. "So he decided that we should build a pergola."
Flying saucer to home
The project began with an ordinary grain bin.
"(Guy) had this vision and I'm thinking, 'OK...,'" Yvette says. "That grain bin roof is from the farm that he grew up on. They sold the farm to this lady and Guy stopped in and told her he used to live there and asked if he could buy the grain bin from her. That grain bin top sat in our yard for the longest time. People would drive by and they thought it was a flying saucer! We had this great big thing and nobody knew what it was."
The gazebo project, which began in the summer of 2018, took over a year to complete.
"I put a lot of hours into it," Guy says.
"He worked on it whenever he could," Yvette says, adding, "whenever he had the time."
Once the roof was in place, Guy worked to install the concrete flooring. By pouring concrete and stamping it, he was able to create a unique look for his one-of-a-kind landscaping project.
"He did it all himself, but the stamped concrete, he had help with that," Yvette says. "But everything else is him."
Guy also had a hand in creating the couple's home, a task that Yvette says she remembers being a tad skeptical about back then.
"He had a vision and he put it together," she says. "It's like our house. When we built our house, he said, 'Well, I am going to help them,' and I thought, 'Oh dear, you've never built a house in your life.' But look how good he did. It's a nice house."
The ceiling of the pergola is wood Guy reclaimed from a forage box, an endeavor that took quite some time.
"I got it down by Minneapolis," he says. "It was a day of labor to take them apart. That was a process."
After running them through a planer, a machine for producing flat, even planks, Guy was ready to put the reclaimed wood up into the ceiling.
Giant metal medallions from the University of Minnesota's theater department were spruced up and inserted as lights in the ceiling of the structure, giving it a glow when lit up at night.
"(Guy) bought them and they were old, rusty medallions that he sandblasted and painted black," Yvette says. "Aren't they the coolest things?"
While North Dakotans are known as tough people, they are still no match for the below-freezing temperatures that come with our brutal winters. But why should all of this hard work result in something relegated to just one season per year? Guy thought of that, too.
A huge, spherical fireplace was installed in the center of the pergola to give off heat and a beautiful glow at night. Windows encircle the metal behemoth to allow a view of the fire from any angle.
Having recently finished the monumental landscaping undertaking, the pergola now serves as a cozy spot for Yvette, Guy and anyone else who finds their way to the couple's rural home.
Nighttime brings about a special ambiance with the sounds of the country filling the air as the metal medallions are lit up and the fireplace casts its warm glow over the comfortable seats that line the outer edges of the construction, making those who choose to sit around the beautiful work of art feel right at home.