Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tables, and the Evolution of a Patio

I'm a little mental about tables. They're really important to me. Not just the aesthetic stuff, what it's made of and what it looks like and if it's the right size to fit your lifestyle, but the metaphorical stuff too.

As years pass, the more I realize how much of life happens around the table in a home. Not just the meals, but all the moments. The first baby bites with tiny spoon. The birthday parties. The wine-y sessions with women friends. Christmas cookie decorating. Boxes of pizza. Milk spills. Sullen silences from kids who do not like the chicken casserole. Board games and popcorn. Late nights alone with worried thoughts and darkness. Praying. Arguing. Laughing. Crying. Talking. All of the talking.

I think about this every time we are gathered here. All those times of togetherness, friends and family who have joined us, as well as those who won't be any more, and all the joys and griefs and daily living that we pile up on the simplest of human furnishings, the thing on which we serve our daily meals. It begins to take on the significance of a totem--a sacred object that represents the ways of a tribe.

It's possible I'm overthinking it (because that's what I do), but it's been on my mind a lot lately, as Tom and I have gradually grown our lives together in this house, and as his kids and my kids grow into adults and take flight, flying back and forth from the nest as they test their wings.

Our life together needed a table. A big table. And since our patio needed some grander scale furnishings, that was where this new, big table was going to go.

Since the beginning of my time in this house, the patio has seen its own evolution. It started as a bare expanse of concrete, and not much more. I put a little money into a modest table and chairs, ones that held just me and my kids.

It began looking a little better when I was able to paint the house. But you can still see the old and crumbling (and mauve) screen porch on the right side.

Late summer of last year, we tackled the screen porch, which also helped with the overall look of the patio area, too. 

This April, Tom made the table. We saw plenty of plans we liked, many of them similar to this one, but in the end we cobbled together a bunch of design ideas from various places, and then Tom made the table big, a little over 8 feet long and over 4 feet wide.

While he was at it, and to give us more seating options, he built a bench to match the table, from his own design. 

Most of the time, the bench is going to live here, against the screen porch wall. The pots were a recent sale find at Lowe's and they had to come home with me.

Here's a little bit of a look at the undercarriage. And my unswept patio. The cedar tree is the world's best patio roof because it's green and cool and dappled light, but it's also the world's worst, because it's always shedding little needles all over the place. And I was too hasty to sweep for this photo session, because the sun was going down and I was losing my daylight for pictures. 

I also need to weed the seams in the concrete. Sigh. The strings of patio lights were an impulse buy of mine, and it turns out they were essential. We love them. 

The table has already hosted several birthday parties, a Mother's Day brunch, a graduation barbecue. It's hosted stay-at-home dates and happy hour glasses of wine. It's been my office space on a few work-from-home days, and it's been the place I staged my boxes of dahlia and gladioli tubers when I brought them up from the basement to plant in the garden. I even stretched out on it, full-length on my back, to look up through cedar boughs, fireflies and stars, all at once, on an evening that seemed too whole and perfect to end. What we finished with a layer of varnish we in turn have also begun, living the layers that make it truly shine in the way that matters most.