ALICE'S HOUSE TABLE
This afternoon I was sitting on my favorite chair - a big old rocking chair - a cat in my lap - feet up - gently moving back and forth - back and forth - my eyes wandering around my kitchen - thinking I was rather content with my solitude, when, for some reason, my eyes were drawn to my big old kitchen table and I started to daydream about this very large solid oak piece of furniture which dominates the room. There are ten chairs lined up on either side and the ends, which gives one a picture it's size.
I wondered what this piece could tell me if only it could speak. What great forest somewhere, maybe Maine or Canada, or even Minnesota, some many, many years ago felt the empty space where once this mighty oak had spread its wings, offering a safe place for all kinds of birds and animals - perhaps a big burly bear and her little cubs had foraged around its huge girth in search for acorns and all the tender little tidbits the sweet earth of the timberland offers. Where was the saw mill that deftly slashed at this tree with its whining teeth to produce the lumber, swiftly sending it along its way to where? Maybe some lone skilled carpenter put together these planks, creating truly a handsome focal point. Did this carpenter proudly bring it in from his barn-workshop to his new bride or was it produced in a factory by a herd of workmen laboring long days for a few pennies in tribute for their toil? “It” was in my house when we bought it some 35 years ago and it had seen 75 summers before we became it’s proud owners. When I think of everything this table has experienced over all these years . . . There are no countertops in my kitchen as it is real old-fashioned and the table is used for everything. How many women before me peeled apples - dusted the top with flour and prepared a big juicy pie, making an “A” from a tiny scrap of crust to add a bit of whimsy and to bring a smile to my face at the satisfaction I feel every time I bake an apple pie? Now, I clean up the mess I made and take out the old worn fold of woolen blankets which is my ironing pad and proceed with a mountain of ironing . . . but this was times past. I wonder how many children did their homework here. My mind wanders to the people I know in my lifetime with “it”. All the joy that has been shared on “her”.
All the card games and the puzzles played, all the laughter and the story telling - the cups of coffee, the feasts and the not so festive meals and the sad times too - how many women and men, too, I suppose, laid their heads down on this ever-ready receptacle for tears and frustrations. All the checks written out for bills paid and budgets which were never adhered to and letters written to sisters in far off places and my own letters and thank you notes written only a year ago thanking friends for their offerings of sympathy at the sudden death of my beloved husband. I sit at this great table alone a lot of late - but I am not really alone - I run the palm of my hand across the smooth surface of this golden oak destined to be my source of great comfort and what a joy to sit here and feel the energy of the life this table has known. I am overwhelmed at the treasure I have here in my big old kitchen with the big old rocker in the corner!
April 2, 1989
To learn more about Alice’s House or to contribute, please reach out to Janet Gibson at 781-834-8993 or email AlicesHouse112@gmail.com.