Life, art, and nature on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Friday, September 14, 2012


We've been doing a bit of furniture shopping lately. Some of the pieces that we brought from our last house have never quite fit, and our farm-style kitchen table is one of them. It was time for a change. The new table and chairs arrived yesterday.
No way I'm letting go of our old table. A couple of nights ago, my mister and I wrestled her out to the barn, where she will wait in the loft until one of the children needs her, or I get a bigger studio. She has lots of life left. 
Is there any piece of furniture more imbued with the life and heart of a growing family, than the kitchen table? Memories flow...there are indentation marks from the pencils of my sweet young schoolchildren, I can just make out a few math problems, and picture those curly blonde heads bent over homework. I see our table surrounded by giggling children as birthday candles are lit. I remember the time my daughter's entire kindergarten class came over and made soft pretzels around her. I think of all the Halloween costumes that were cut out there. I see the dogs of twenty years waiting patiently beneath her for a handout...Emma, Tess, Lily, Lucy, and now Scout and Nigel.  I see Holiday dinners when the table groaned with the weight of the feast, and I think of who is missing from those dinners now. I think of Pop J. (my father-in-law), whom we lost a year and a half ago. He always brought the ham, and his own knife for carving, because ours were never sharp enough to please him. It was something of a family joke and we teased him about it. Every year, the same jokes, woven into family tradition.
 I think of "biscuit monsters."  My children loved biscuits. I would cut the dough into perfect circles, but always shape the last bit into a creature with raisin or chocolate chip eyes. They loved it.
I see tousled and yawning sleep-over guests, around that table. I think of all the pizzas eaten there. I see them growing up before my very eyes, and leaving for college, returning with new friends, catching up with the old ones. I think of leftovers eaten around that table. The friends are scattered now, but it's a rare holiday when at least one of them doesn't show up to have leftovers with us the next day.
So now you know how hopelessly sentimental I am. I don't deny it. I have one more memory to share. If I keep going, I'm likely to send the new table back.
The kitchen table has a single small drawer. We had forgotten. We re-discovered it last Thanksgiving. There were a couple of placemats in it, that belonged to the kids when they were small. We reminisced over them. I remembered where I bought them, and we tried to remember how old the children were at the time. Then, an epiphany. With stunned surprise, we asked ourselves, "Is it possible to mold children with placemats?" Our son's was a periodic table of the elements, our daughter's was a map of the United States. As it happens, our son is now working on a doctorate in Physical Chemistry. Our daughter, has a degree in Environmental Science and had just earned her GIS (geograhic imaging systems) certificate. We had so much fun relating that story over the holidays. All the stress and expense and worry that goes into raising children, when all you really need is a couple of 5 dollar placemats! Hah!
Perhaps, it really is the little things...
Out with the old.
In with the new.

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