Table the centre of family times

Scientists studying families today find that very few take time to even eat one meal a day together. Apparently, we are just too busy to eat together anymore.
It hasn’t always been that way.
Every night when I was young, our family came together and ate meals around an old dark oak dining room table and chairs that had been passed down in the family.
Over time and because of age, the table’s glue dried out. Chair backs cracked and broke. Eventually, my parents made a decision to save the table rather than replace it.
My father enjoyed working with wood, and he restored the table to its original sturdiness and lustre. He rebuilt chairs, and crafted new ones duplicating all the details of the originals.
When my parents built the cottage, one of his tasks was to build a big table that all the expanding family could crunch around in the summer. It was built over a winter and was a pride of joy for him.
The table top had a low sheen that was created through many coatings of varnish.
I think I gained a love of working with wood from my Dad. One of my first projects was to replace a second table at the cottage with a more substantial one. The top included red, white, spruce, and balsam wood all harvested, cut, and planed from the district.
That table has been the centre of Saturday evening meals of family and friends. Sunday morning will find most of the family sitting around it enjoying blueberry pancakes and coffee. And evenings, the table often is witness to games of rummy, Canasta, and blackout.
This winter, I have started on another table project. The wood has come from Manitou Lumber and now forms the table top.
You never know what the wood will be like when you choose it at a mill. As it is planed, then sanded, becoming smoother with each sanding, the wood yields more and more highlights.
For three weeks, I have been planing and joining the wood. The top now fills my woodworking room. Final sanding brought diamonds of light out of the wood and sparkles where you would least expect to find them.
This past weekend, working with my brother, we have finished the table top. The wood is all white pine, yet that wood has yielded reds, yellows, and browns.
The side edges and ends are red oak, and the natural colours of the pine are enhanced by the oak.
When the table is complete, it will find its way to his new cabin that will be built this spring on an island in the north arm of Rainy Lake. I have designed the table to be big enough for a dozen people to laugh, eat, and have fun around.
I hope the enjoyment we get around the table in our cottage, or that table that still sits in my mom’s home, will find its way to the north arm of Rainy Lake.
The top is now curing in the wood shop, and the shine from its surface was almost blinding Sunday afternoon.

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