Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Blackberries & Honey: The Story of a Little Table

My grandmother's kitchen. A town called Cherryville.

In memory, that room is filled with yellows and creams: the floor linoleum, the cabinets, the wind-chime slowly turning at the window. These bright colors didn't create a room of light. The kitchen window, looking out onto a covered patio, was shielded from the sun's glare. What rays filtered in were diluted, creating a dim glow. Perhaps that glow is just the veneer of memory, which is faulty at its best. When you're little, you never remember the "important" details--what size the room really was, what type of cabinets she had, what type of flooring was laid, or what color the walls were--instead, strange things root in your mind, lingering forever: a certain fridge magnet, the color of the china you were't allowed to touch, the honey-pot on the windowsill.
So, it may be the glow of memory, creating a mood that was not. But I know its right to say that the room held the glow of warmth, smiles, hugs, and honey.

Little girl mornings found me--loose PJ's and crooked ponytail--crawling onto a kitchen chair, asking for breakfast:
Glass of milk, cold and creamy.
Crispy toast, amber-brown at its edges and spread with a thin layer of blackberry jam. The seeds would click against my teeth as I ate, my belly warm with bread and love.

My grandmother--we all called her our Mawmaw, a word which suits her better--would usually pause and sit across from me, offering a smile. Somehow, even in the kitchen as she cooked, her hands smelled clean and soft with the thick, flower-scent of lotion. A crumpled tissue always in her hand or in her pocket. Not dirty, rather a new one, tightly clutched, somehow always there. She'd leave it behind on the table when she stood., never pausing for too long. She'd bustle in the laundry or amble down the narrow hall, distracted by some other task needed doing.

I ate small bites quickly, rising on tiptoe to place the tiny plate back on the counter. All that was left would be bread-crust and crumbs. I had eaten all the goodness at the heart.

Mawmaw and I in the kitchen
That little, round breakfast table has an extra's credit in my memory. But when I really pause and consider, it really was the prop and setting for many moments. I love that little table because I loved the woman who fed me there: her Southern cooking, her puffed hair, her soft, thin hands and round-glasses smile.

I think there's something blessed about family memories. Something that renders them tender and good, from the low, little-girl perspective. At least for me.
That table surely has soaked up years of memories. It's borne the weight, ideas, and decisions of us all.

What better thing to have at the center of our new home?

The table waiting to be cleaned--hence the random rag.
It was stored in our building for a few years, unused. Now it will have a new happy home.

The chairs before re-painting.

After removing the vinyl cushions, I gently scrubbed the chairs, table base, and table top with a diluted TSP solution. That stuff is AMAZING! Tiny spots of rust that I had been putting some serious elbow-grease into
melted right away. (Yes, I know that "into" is a dangling preposition...I don't want to fix it right now. Guilty English-major conscience....)

Then, using Rustoleum spray-paint, I repainted the chairs, leaving the wood-backs their original color. They look alot darker and more dramatic against the white, I think.

Next task: repainting the table-top. I chose a poppy-red Krylon paint, because I felt it would complement the warm texture of the wood. Needless to say, it took several coats.

I had to re-cover the vinyl cushions as well. Somehow, that creamy color no longer worked. I was pretty discouraged when looking through fabrics at craft-stores. Nothing seemed to go with the table. I wanted something with a contemporary edge that also felt a little retro (after all, this table was built in the 1970's).
My sister Heidi saved the day when she found this geometric flower print. It had every color I wanted: reds, oranges, turquoise, purple, even the brown of the wood.  Dad helped me cover the cushions, poor thing! My hand wasn't strong enough to use the nailer! Ha! The misfortune of being petite and having small hands.
Here's the finished product:

Once the chairs were done, I could assemble all the parts.
The table doesn't look quite like it did in Mawmaw's kitchen, but it holds the same sweet memories and good energies.

I can't wait to put it in our new condo (which I still need to upload pictures of!! <--egad! another dangling prep!!) and have our probably burnt, newly-wed meals around it. Haha!

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed the little story of the table.

1 comment:

  1. Precious story and way to early in the morning for tears and a crumbled kleenex in hand. I know we did not grow up together but I'm Very proud of u and I know mamaw & papaw are smiling down with tear in heaven. Love you, Sabrina


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